Archive for March 13th, 2010

USA Today — U.S. dollar is still the world’s most trusted currency

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The U.S. will spend about $1.8 trillion more than it gets in revenue this year. Next year, it will add an estimated $1.2 trillion to the debt.

Expenses in the billions may not attract much attention these days, but when it gets to the trillions, people sit up and take notice. In a CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted in January, 83% of those polled thought the federal budget deficit was extremely important or very important. The debt and the deficit are enormous political issues and will likely play a big role in the 2012 elections.

Wash Post — New round of foreclosures threatens housing market

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

About 5 million to 7 million properties are potentially eligible for foreclosure but have not yet been repossessed and put up for sale. Some economists project it could take nearly three years before all these homes have been put on the market and purchased by new owners. And the number of pending foreclosures could grow much bigger over the coming year as more distressed borrowers become delinquent and then, if they can’t obtain mortgage relief, wade through the foreclosure process, which often takes more than a year to complete.

WSJ — Where to Find the Money. Despite a Contraction in Consumer Loans, Some Banks Are Rolling Out the Dough

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Some bankers still say yes.

That is hard to believe considering the drought in lending. U.S. banks posted a 7.5% decline in 2009 in total loans outstanding, the steepest percentage drop since 1942, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Consumer lending fell by 3.8% as roughly 7,200 banks and credit unions pulled back on mortgages, credit cards and other loans, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

Paul Sullivan — No Federal Estate Tax, but What About Your State?

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

There is just one problem: If you live in one of 20 states with a state estate tax, you could find your existing estate tax plans causing more harm than good.

State estate taxes are not new. They had just been a secondary element in the course of figuring out the much higher federal estate tax.

Ronald Mann — A New Chapter for Bankruptcy

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

THE Obama administration introduced a plan this week to encourage defaulting homeowners to sell their houses at a loss, the latest in a long line of reform packages promising to break the logjam of underwater mortgages. But without major changes to the bankruptcy system, such measures won’t aid the American families torn apart by the economic upheavals of the last two years.

LA Times — Oil companies look at permanent refinery cutbacks

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Some of the nation’s biggest oil companies are looking at permanently reducing how much gasoline and diesel fuel they make, a move that analysts say would almost certainly trigger higher prices for drivers.

Energy companies are suffering huge losses from refining because of slumping gasoline use — a product of the economic downturn and changing consumer habits and preferences. Energy experts say refining cutbacks have begun and will accelerate as corporations strive for profits.

Entrepreneurial Innovation and the Internet — Bret Swanson

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

As Washington and the states pile up mountainous liabilities – $3 trillion for unfunded state pensions, $10 trillion in new federal deficits through 2019, and $38 trillion (or is it $50 trillion?) in unfunded Medicare promises – the U.S. needs once again to call on its chief strategic asset: radical innovation.

One laboratory of growth will continue to be the Internet. The U.S. began the 2000′s with fewer than five million residential broadband lines and zero mobile broadband. We begin the new decade with 71 million residential lines and 300 million portable and mobile broadband devices. In all, consumer bandwidth grew almost 15,000%.

Jim Jubak — Is China actually bankrupt?

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Is China broke?
It seems like a silly question, right? China’s foreign-exchange reserves stood at $2.4 trillion at the end of 2009. Yes, China announced that its proposed annual budget for 2010 would produce a record deficit, but the deficit is just $154 billion, or 2.8% of China’s gross domestic product. In contrast, the Congressional Budget Office projects the U.S. budget deficit for fiscal 2010 at $1.3 trillion. That’s equal to 9.2% of GDP.

Health care: Going from broken to broke

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

NEW YORK (Fortune) — A few nights ago in the historic Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Mo., President Obama reassured a crowd of Senator Claire McCaskill supporters that health-care reform wouldn’t just be good for their health, it would be good for the health of the country: “I said at the beginning of this thing we would not do anything that adds to our deficit,” he said to the clapping audience. “This plan does not do anything to add to this deficit. And that’s how we should be operating.”

Michael Moynihan on Mass. Hysteria — Scenes from the revolutionary takeover of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

In this bluest of blue states, I had been following Republican state legislator Scott Brown and Democratic gaffe master and Attorney General Martha Coakley as they weaved their way toward Tuesday’s finish line in Boston. I had spent hours talking to union members, former Democrats, current Democrats, Kennedy voters, and gay rights campaigners who were-as almost all of them said-Scott Brown supporters worried about the “explosive growth of government.” All natives of the Commonwealth and reflexively Democratic, they kvetched about what they viewed as reckless government spending, rising taxes, and a risky overhaul of a health care system that treats them rather well. As one member of a pipefitters union told me, “None of the guys in my union trust that Obama won’t hit us with that 40 percent health care tax.”

Pelosi’s Arrogance Knows No Bounds — Colin Hanna

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Several public opinion surveys over the last ten or eleven months make it clear the American people do not want the health care reform legislation currently before Congress to pass. It’s a sea change in the public’s attitude since from the days immediately following the 2008 election, when Democrats from the newly-elected Barack Obama on down universally proclaimed that the people had given them a mandate, that they had embraced the idea that the government should increase its control of the health care system and, with it, nearly one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

More Democrats come out against health care bill

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Washington (CNN) — As House Democratic leaders advised their members Friday to prepare for a legislative battle over health care that could stretch through next weekend, four additional rank-and-file Democrats have come out against the Obama administration’s signature domestic priority.

Collin Levy on Marco Rubio — The Conscience of a Florida Conservative. The would-be senator on his own political rise and how the Republican Party can show it deserves to govern again.

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

‘They voted for somebody they’d never heard of in Barack Obama because he ran on the platform of a very devoted centrist.”

That’s the answer from Marco Rubio when asked about his stunning rise to national prominence as a Republican challenger to a popular Republican officeholder in the key electoral state of Florida. Underlying this strange political season, says Mr. Rubio, is the president’s rapid uncloaking in office as anything but the postpartisan that voters thought they had elected.

Paul Johnson — There Is No Keynesian Miracle

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The Obama Administration and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government both chose to meet the credit crisis and subsequent recession with huge increases in public spending and debt. Brown even boasted that by doing so he had “saved the world.”

Yellen Is Spellin’ Future Inflation — Larry Kudlow

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The new Obama Fed is going to be very dovish when it comes to fighting future inflation and defending the value of the dollar.

The president has nominated Janet Yellen to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve. Ms. Yellen is a distinguished economist who unfortunately subscribes to the Phillips-curve model that trades off unemployment and inflation. In other words, rather than excess money creation as the cause of rising prices, she focuses on the unemployment rate, the volume of new jobs being created, and the growth of the overall economy. For Ms. Yellen, inflation is caused by too many people working and too much economic prosperity.

McClatchy — In Cuba, it’s business as usual

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

The Cuban regime knows no shame.

On March 8, Granma, the Communist Party daily, foretold the death of Guillermo Farinas Hernandez. On a hunger strike since Feb. 24, he is demanding that two dozen political prisoners in ill health be freed. Cuba can’t be blackmailed or pressured, Granma noted, nor would it be ethical to force-feed him while conscious.

The American, black-on-Asian violence at South Philadelphia High School — Are Some Races More Equal Than Others?

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has just announced a new push to enforce civil rights laws to combat discrimination in our schools. In the last decade, he said, his department’s Office for Civil Rights “has not been as vigilant as it should have been . . . But that is about to change.” His remarks were made March 8 in a speech at the Edmund Pettus Bridge commemorating the 45th anniversary of the civil rights march on Selma, Alabama, that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Charles Blow, NY Times — Don’t Tickle Me, Bro!

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the percentage of its sexual harassment filings that are made by men has doubled over the last two decades. And, although the agency does not compile data on the gender of those being accused, anecdotal evidence suggests that most of those filings are for male-to-male harassment.

Jeremy Lott — Do Washington state Democrats have a death wish with tax increases?

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Do Washington state Democrats have a death wish? That’s the question many locals must be asking after the Democrat-controlled Senate held hearings last Thursday, with little notice, packed with supporters for a new bill that would impose a statewide income tax.

They tried to sell the proposal as a populist measure. The tax would only apply to wealthy earners and it would allow the state government to reduce the sales tax. By bringing the bill up so late in the legislative session – business is supposed to be completed by this Thursday – the Dems were not seriously trying to pass the bill. So why bring it up at all?

Ralph Peters — Why our ‘post-modern presidents’ fail

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Since the end of World War II, our country has had three great presidents: Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Their politics varied, but these giants stand in sharp contrast to our last three presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now Barack Obama. The first two presided over gravely flawed presidencies; the third is on his way to outright failure.

What makes these two presidential trios so different? A recent visit to the Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Mo., made me ask what made those great presidents great.