Today’s readings:

INVESTING & TRADING

Estimates of economic costs of a flu pandemic (Telegraph) The World Bank estimated in 2008 that a flu pandemic could cost $3 trillion (£2 trillion) and result in a nearly 5pc drop in world gross domestic product. The World Bank has estimated that more than 70m people could die worldwide in a severe pandemic. See also Seeking Lessons From the Past to Fight Flu

• Fed Pushes Citi, BofA to Increase Capital (WSJ)

J.P. Morgan Is No. 1 Goldman Sachs once ruled the Street. No more. Now the bank to admire—and fear—is Jamie Dimon’s J.P. Morgan Chase. (Portfolio)

Berkshire’s 31% Decline Spurred by Derivatives Buffett Derided (Bloomberg)

Can a Rally Last on Diet of Junk? (WSJ)

Dykstra’s business: a bed of ‘Nails’ (ESPN)


ECONOMY

The Bogus Bank Recovery (Newsweek)

How libertarian dogma led the Fed astray (FT)

Treasury Announces New Plan to Aid Mortgage Holders (Bloomberg)

32% Say Spending Less Is Their “New Normal” (Gallup)

GM to pull the plug on Pontiac (Money)


WAR/MEDIA/POLITICS/ENERGY
Sen. Specter To Switch Parties, Democrats Near 60 Vote Majority (Washington Wire)

How ’07 ABC Interview Tilted a Torture Debate (NYT)

Condé Nast Pulls Plug On Portfolio And Some 80 Jobs; Website’s Odds Of Survival Slim (Paid Content) See also Are magazines doomed, too?

• and just for fun: McGraw-Hill net down 22 pct, FY revenue view cut (ha ha)


TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCE

Crucifying Craigslist

•  Is an iPhone on Verizon’s horizon? (GMSV)

•  No, not an iPhone: New Gear from Apple and Verizon Wireless? (Business Week)

• Dont forget the vaporware: Microsoft, Verizon in Talks to Launch iPhone Rival (WSJ)

Ahhh, that felt good!

Category: Credit, Financial Press, Markets

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

67 Responses to “Afternoon Reading”

  1. MikeG says:

    • McGraw-Hill net down 22 pct

    Nelson Muntz: HA ha!

  2. leftback says:

    This is kind of interesting. Haven’t seen this picked up anywhere except at ZeroHedge.
    Unfortunately being CBS there are mainly words of one syllable and no wonky details.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/27/cbsnews_investigates/main4972588.shtml

  3. Super-Anon says:

    Haven’t seen this picked up anywhere except at ZeroHedge.

    I like that site, but I think they should change the name to “WoundedBear”.

  4. “• How libertarian dogma led the Fed astray (FT)”

    can we see some libertarians that are pro-FedRes? I’ve been to a few Zoos, I’ve yet to See one.

    “• Sen. Specter To Switch Parties, Democrats Near 60 Vote Majority (Washington Wire)”

    though, is b/c Sen. “Magic Bullet” would not survive the (R) Primary battle with Pat Toomey.
    gets him into the Election contest, replete with SEIU volunteers and, other, assorted Obamatons.

    Mark it down, He Still loses..Good-bye RINOs, it’s an Extinction we, All, can withstand.

  5. Super-Anon says:

    “• How libertarian dogma led the Fed astray (FT)”

    Yep, what libertarian told the Fed to step in and stop the market correction in 1998 that might have wiped out much of excesses that plagued the economy for a decade after?

  6. Super-Anon says:

    Yep, what libertarian told the Fed to step in and stop the market correction in 1998 that might have wiped out much of excesses that plagued the economy for a decade after?

    BTW I suspect what was really going on here is that the Fed was just a tool of Wall Street bubble pumpers and wealth redistribution experts.

    Again, one of the major problems with government intervention is that it becomes the target of special interests that benefit from it asymmetrically at the expense of the rest of the population.

    Judging from what we know of history you would have to expect the Fed to be hijacked in this manner at some point.

  7. Clem Stone says:

    I just heard that the recession is already over.

    And even if you get the flu (unlikely) it’s no biggie…you feel crappy for a couple days and then it’s back to work.

    The chart says SPX 900 is right around the corner.

  8. hopeImwrong says:

    Super@3:10

    It is strange to me how “free market over zealousness” and “deregulation by republicans” is being blamed for the banking melt down. To me, this is 90% spin, and 10% grain of truth. When things go bad, politicians usually try to demonize what they want to change.

    Bankers bought influence, and owned the powers controlling the regulations and enforcement. It was a pure power grab that worked. They went too far and blew themselves up.

    The grain of truth is probably that the de-regulation was sold to a few dupes (like Bush) as free market crap, but is wasn’t really.

  9. Super-Anon says:

    It is strange to me how “free market over zealousness” and “deregulation by republicans” is being blamed for the banking melt down. To me, this is 90% spin, and 10% grain of truth. When things go bad, politicians usually try to demonize what they want to change.

    I think some fair points can be made about it being foolish to remove Glass-Steagall, but the simple fact is through much of our history this country was much less regulated and had strong economic growth and the highest per-capita incomes in the world.

    Have we seen a reduction in the magnitude of financial crises as the country has become more regulated? It seems to me that the worst crises have occurred as the government has become more centralized and the economy more regulated (i.e. the Great Depression and now this mess).

    This doesn’t demonstrate cause and effect, but there are engineering and design principals that might explain what’s going on:

    Centralization of control creates economy-wide modes of failure. If you have a single network or support structure it can fail as a whole.

    Note that 90% of all businesses fail. Does a similar rule also apply to financial systems and governments?

    If so then a global monolithic financial system and economy almost guarantees a worldwide cultural catastrophe at some point with no “backup economies”.

    Maybe we need to think about the things we build and not judge them solely on their size or short-term economic benefits…

    ~~~

    BR: We had less regulation, but less to regulate. Funny how that works

  10. leftback says:

    Here is another thing we will be talking about soon. One of the lines here is “every bond auction is an event risk”. Too many bonds, not enough printing presses?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/5220118/The-capital-well-is-running-dry-and-some-economies-will-wither.html

    “They went too far and blew themselves up.”

    Last time I looked GS, MS, C and BofA were still functioning as private companies. J6P lost half of his 201K and his job while the rest of us are paying more tax. As it stands, they went too far and they blew us up.

  11. Onlooker from Troy says:

    Re: the Gallup poll on spending. The data reflect what we know has to happen in the near term: less spending, more “saving” (or debt repayment). This will impact the economy, but there’s not much choice now is there? Job loss or the threat of it, and the reduced access to credit will force this behavior. So some are doing it by choice, but a lot more just don’t have a choice anymore.

    This thing is a long way from being over though. By the time it plays out the effects will be even larger, IMO. Of course the govt is doing all it can to mitigate that, hoping we’ll be able to continue our profligate spending ways.

  12. karen says:

    Concerning bonds and the FOMC announcement tomorrow, will they declare treasury purchases?

  13. Super-Anon says:

    Concerning bonds and the FOMC announcement tomorrow, will they declare treasury purchases?

    I don’t know, all I know is that I’ll be sitting with me finger on the “BUY” button for the S&P futures for both the GDP numbers and the FOMC statement in case I need to do an emergency hedging operation.

  14. leftback says:

    Karen, WTF with the 10-year? It’s shooting up vertically … wonder if we get more QE tomorrow.
    I wonder what the world looks like when the bond market begins to break?

    There is no equity market. Blankfein has two computers: SPOO and BOO, connected by negative feedback.
    My uranium miner is going up 10-20% EVERY DAY. Interesting and profitable.

  15. Mortimus says:

    Wait, “sideway” is what for the bulls? I keep forgetting, please tell me again Pisani.

    Why don’t they just add a scrolling 3rd line above the Nasdaq and NYSE that reads “Sideways is a victory for the bulls…sideways is a victory for the bulls….”

  16. Onlooker from Troy says:

    Copper continues it’s down trend. It was/is lauded as a leading indicator for the economy as it rose on a pretty steep incline into mid-April, and has been held up as one of the green shoots for the market. Now it’s clearly in a down trend and many in the blogosphere have pointed out that it was (most likely) a big head fake caused by China stockpiling at low prices.

    Some day soon the market will wake up to the ugly reality, no longer able to ignore it and hang on the thin thread of green shoots.

  17. Robertm73 says:

    http://doomisnigh.blogspot.com/2009/04/calpers-says-will-vote-to-oust-bank-of.html
    Calpers says out with the board at BOA. Ouch, guess the godfather does not have so much protection.

  18. DL says:

    Onlooker @ 4:10

    Also, crude oil peaked about a month ago.

  19. call me ahab says:

    with a 60 seat majority in the Senate, control of the House and Presidency- Democrats will be in charge of their own destiny- should be interesting to watch-

    I can see Pelosi looking into the television camera asking (a la Gladiator)- “are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED.”

  20. Regulation vs Deregulation

    I can only speak for my lifetime, 50 yrs.

    The first half regulated, the second half deregulated.

    In the regulated years, I remember being able to go to the doctor for a reasonable amount and if you had insurance, it really paid the bill.
    I worked for a public utility (GTE) that paid well and was required to fulfill service commitments.
    Hurricane Alicia wiped out the Gulf Coast, but it was rebuilt post haste.
    The black kids couldn’t swim in the same pool with the white kids, til ’66 or so.
    Credit was hard to get.
    While there was strife, we seemed to be more of a whole.

    Deregulated.
    GTE is now Verizon, they’ll be there in a week or so.
    Doctor is a last resort. Insurance, LOL
    New Orleans and Galveston are still destroyed.
    Black kids and white kids are marrying, no problem, I’m mixed myself.
    Credit was very easy to get.
    Personally, I did alright in the new old west, but as a whole, it hasn’t been better for the country or for society.

    I guess the perfect way is a blend of the two, but you need inherently honest people to lead the way.
    Therein lies the problem, I suppose.

  21. willid3 says:

    and you can’t forget all the excitement we had when we were deregulated!! about 10-15 years there would be (just like clock work) a crises like we are having today! where every thing was trashed and we had to start over again. then in 1930 for some strange reason we though there had to be a better way. and maybe we could keep the animal spirits under some semblance of control. and for while it worked. until we though we were smarter (so we thought) and could do with out the net (like under the trapeze artist). and just like that trapeze artist, we got tired. and you know its not the fall that gets you. its that sudden stop.
    and those regulations we reformed? they were there to counteract human nature. cause we know one thing. given have a chance some one will game the system (and get help fixing it from their lackeys) so they could get rich. which they did and have done before. the real wonder is why we could could doing the same thing and expecting a different result

  22. call me ahab says:

    Foghorn-

    just came back from NOLA a few weeks ago- quite busy and bustling- had a great time- I saw no signs of hurrican damage but then again- I didn’t go looking- they do have a tour to the ward that took the most damage-

    I do have an observation though- where was the Governor and the Mayor of that city when it came time to help the citizens of New Orleans- Nagrin got reelected no less- yes- after the Hurricane- complicite?

  23. ahab
    In my piece, I was making general observations of my lifetime.

    New Orleans has always and will always be a cesspool of corruption.
    I know from personal experience by working there for two years on a multi-million $$ project.
    There is a new documentary on HBO ‘Troubled Waters’ or some such title.
    Check it out.
    The Ninth ward is a disaster area, until they decide to fill it in and build condos.

  24. franklin411 says:

    @Super:
    I’m sorry, but your statement about us having the highest incomes in the pre-regulatory world is patently ridiculous. Income inequality, working conditions, lifespan, infant mortality, tenement housing, discrimination, slavery…the 19th century is a horror-show of human cruelty. It’s also a period in which regulation was virtually non-existent.

    And to blame the Great Depression, which began in 1929, on the regulatory system that began in 1933 would get you an F, even in a junior high school history class.

  25. willid3
    they were there to counteract human nature. cause we know one thing. given have a chance some one will game the system (and get help fixing it from their lackeys) so they could get rich. which they did and have done before.

    Here is the root of the problem.
    US
    We are two-legged predators, at the top of the food chain,
    let’s not forget this.

  26. willid3 says:

    and here is a study of income going as far back as 1913 using income tax data
    http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2006prel.pdf

  27. Super-Anon says:

    I’m sorry, but your statement about us having the highest incomes in the pre-regulatory world is patently ridiculous. Income inequality, working conditions, lifespan, infant mortality, tenement housing, discrimination, slavery…the 19th century is a horror-show of human cruelty. It’s also a period in which regulation was virtually non-existent.

    I said nothing about distributions of incomes, just that per-capita incomes in the US became the highest in the world during that period. I think it’s important to ask whether the improvement in living conditions and human rights were due to regulatory changes or changes in the economic output per-capita. What if regulatory reforms regarding individual welfare were only possible due to the growth that preceded them?

    Contrast that with the Soviet countries and their bread lines. We’re they less regulated than us or did an overly rigid system that crushed economic freedoms restrict the sort of economic prosperity needed for individual welfare?

    And to blame the Great Depression, which began in 1929, on the regulatory system that began in 1933 would get you an F, even in a junior high school history class.

    Well the Federal Reserve came about in 1913. And they cut interest rates to goose the markets in 1927 as they began to correct. A great big bubble ensued followed by a great big collapse.

    Sound familiar?

  28. willid3 says:

    was it a bubble that was inflated by the banksters and company? from the hearings held in 1930-32, it would appear to be so. after all, this was the time where there were door to door salesman selling stock. and a few other things. like Cuban loans. that the banksters already knew were bad. and a few other minor things.

  29. Super-Anon says:

    I’m sorry, but your statement about us having the highest incomes in the pre-regulatory world is patently ridiculous.

    BTW I rechecked the source I was referring to. Unless it is inaccurate the statement that “during the period from its inception to the beginning of WWI the US achieved the highest per-capita income in the world” is simply a statement of fact and nothing more.

    Note that the US was considered the first true liberal democracy (in this case “liberal” refers to traditional liberalism, e.g. the libertarian laissez-faire kind of liberalism) and this philosophy seemed to characterize the pre-WWI period.

    I think I’m just stating facts here. Correct me if I’m wrong…

  30. Super-Anon says:

    was it a bubble that was inflated by the banksters and company?

    IIRC Calvin Coolidge and Andrew Mellon we’re supposedly always saying things to pump up the markets during the 20s. It sounds to me kind of like Jim Cramer and the Wall Street crowd running the government…

  31. Whammer says:

    @super-anon,

    I don’t know about your source one way or another. However, this chart, showing average WW per capita income, makes me think that the per capita incom improvement from 1776 to 1919 wasn’t that interesting…..

    http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2008/03/18/worldgdp1600_2003a.gif

  32. Super-

    he has no answer to the FedRes inception in ’13.

    the realization that that Act hijacked any semblance of ‘Free Market’ in the US would cause paroxysms of Cognitive Dissonance induced facade-shattering seizures. Richter would be able to measure them..

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/paroxysm
    http://www.seismo.unr.edu/ftp/pub/louie/class/100/magnitude.html

  33. willid3 says:

    If that is accurate, what does it say about the incomes of the world prior to WWI? looking back you can see that there was not exactly a lot of income earned by any one but the top 10%.

  34. 1776-1913
    No need for ‘income’
    You traded taters for pork
    You traded work for taters
    It wasn’t a time of excess
    Get ready to do it again

  35. Super-Anon says:

    @super-anon,

    I don’t know about your source one way or another. However, this chart, showing average WW per capita income, makes me think that the per capita incom improvement from 1776 to 1919 wasn’t that interesting…..

    All I’m arguing is that maybe there is a connection between the fact that the US was the first “liberal democracy” (again in the libertarian sense) the fact that it achieved the highest per-capita income in the world prior to WWI.

    There may be other factors involved too, such as the resources available in the country, but I think the pre-WWI experience of the United States makes it hard to argue that free markets and lack of regulation endanger general prosperity.

    Also if the US back then was so cruel and unjust with it’s laissez-faire ideology, why was everyone and their dog emigrating here?

    Hmmmm…..

  36. willid3 says:

    hm, and then there is this.
    http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/2008/05/04/average-income-in-the-united-states-1913-2006/
    it shows the income levels starting in 1913-1914 and goes up to 2004.

  37. CNBC Sucks says:

    The problem with the US is not laissez-faire ideology. The problem with the US is a political and economic system that favors the rich and powerful while masking itself as “laissez faire” and the world’s bastion of free markets, when it is more like the bastion of my ass. What my fellow Republicans call “free markets” is a system of subsidies and interventions for the privileged, and these thugs howl “communism” and “socialism” like banshees in heat when Democrats spread the wealth just a tad to the unprivileged.

    Libertarians like to point to the FedRes as a corruption of American free enterprise, and by George, I am sympathetic to that idea. I say, let freedom reign, do not be afraid of a little capitalism. The ability to print money approaches the ability to conscript citizens to war among the most odious tyrannies of government.

  38. CNBC Sucks says:

    Hoffer…true dat. Liberals and Libertarians can and should agree on at least the five letters.

    And oh btw, I was shocked by the presence of hotties at Cato.

  39. franklin411 says:

    @Super:
    Let’s not forget that the various immigration waves were driven by political and social repression: The Irish Potato Famine, the Russian Pogroms, etc…

    Anyway, I assume you have some proof that per capita income was the highest in the world during the 19th century? And then we’d have to get into methodology–IE, how do they treat slaves? If a slave is freed, is that “capital destruction?” Is a slave’s production allocated as income for the master or the slave (think about it…if the production created by a slave is allocated as income for the master, that would tend to reduce the divisor and inflate the per capita income)?

    And referring to your 5:42PM comment: Nobody denies that unregulated economies can create massive amounts of wealth for a tiny minority in the master class. That’s cold comfort for the slaves, wage or chattel. When you use a term like “per capita income,” you’re implying that there was some sort of “trickle down” effect, which is ridiculous.

  40. leftback says:

    Finally. One thing I think we can all agree on here.
    “Trickle down” is a myth. It trickled up, if anything.

    CNBC Sucks: Buffett was interviewed by Betty Liu of Bloomberg and she was absolutely purring…
    First Becky Quick and now another media hottie. What does Warren have that we don’t, dude?

  41. moneyneversleepsblog says:

    @leftback “What does Warren have that we don’t, dude?”

    You mean besides the billions right? That guy is such a sucker for the ladies.. He was probably purring on that Bloomberg interview!

  42. leftback says:

    I was thinking it was the billions… Next year….

  43. willid,

    even the FedRes in Minneapolis says that one would need U$D 22.06 in 2009 to buy goods that U$D 1.00 purchased in 1913.

    http://www.minneapolisfed.org/index.cfm

    care to guess the definition of “Intellectually Dishonest” ?

  44. willid3 says:

    not sure i buy that since a lot of workers got paid in company script, or in any thing but dollars, . they may say it, but we did have some inflation since then too huh? and are we comparing apples and oranges? in 1913 cars barely existed and mostly were owned by the wealthy. every one else got by with horses (if they had them even). and medicine was a joke for the most part (we still had products like coke being treated as a drug???!!). and then we had child labor. about the turn of the 20th century things weren’t much better than the 19th century had been as far as how the bottom 98% lived.

    and looking back at history, we can also see things like companies not paying in dollars, but in company script, and then manipulating the company store so that you couldn’t make it on what was paid. and if you complained and tried to get dollars instead you were killed. and that was in the 20th century. go back far enough and you can find that people manipulated weights and measurements, care to guess in whose favor that was done?

  45. Speaking of Specter, Magic Bullets and ‘Intellectual Dishonesty’

    In evaluating the Report, Dwight Macdonald wrote: “So now we have the Warren Commissioners, neither heroes nor villains, putting their trust in a saturation barrage of factual ammunition. Now Facts are all very well but they have their little weaknesses. Americans often assume that Facts are solid, concrete (and discrete) objects like marbles, but they are very much not. Rather are they subtle essences, full of mystery and metaphysics, that change their color and shape, their meaning, according to the context in which they are presented. They must always be treated with skepticism, and the standard of judgment should be not how many Facts one can mobilize in support of a position but how skillfully one discriminates between them, how objectively one uses them to arrive at Truth, which is something different from, although not unrelated to, the Facts.”

    From here
    http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/the_critics/Fonzi/WC_Truth_Specter/WC_Truth_Specter.html

  46. CNBC Sucks says:

    lefty, seriously, what is the deal with Rebecca Jarvis? If she doesn’t watch her tanning bed addiction, she will soon be Leatherface Jarvis.

    Matt Nesto is absolutely awful trying to do the Dylan Ratigan he-man walk-through the NYSE at closing bell.

  47. willid,

    for you, ‘nuf said. btw, be sure there’s always an opening for yourself, here:
    http://www.thepretzelboys.com/ or, here:
    http://www.martinspretzels.com/lore.html

    you should mark that kind of employability down on your Balance Sheet, under the A-column

  48. franklin411 says:

    Looking at another story…I don’t think VZ needs an iPhone. They’re getting the new Blackberry 9630 Niagara, which could be an iphone-killer.

  49. Brendan says:

    I like how libertarians always resort to some long past, and no longer relevant, time to validate their ideas. Cave men efficiently trading seashells doesn’t qualify as proof the a central bank is bad. The economic hardships we face are not a result of going off the seashell standard. Likewise, cherry picking data from a time when gold was transported in train cars does not prove that the federal reserve and centralized monetary regulation is a bad policy in the age of international commerce and electronic transactions. It just proves that you have no clue how much different the economy today is than it was back then. And then you always gotta throw in reference to the “Soviets had breadlines” to strike some red commie fear into your opposition’s heart. As if we’re all so uneducated to think that the choice is between a pure free market or pure government control.

    It’s really not all that complicated. You drive the economy like a car. You don’t see a left corner, wait until you almost drive off the road and then crank the wheel as hard as you can. You come to the corner, you correct, correct, and correct again to keep between the lines. Hitting a bump in the road and finding yourself off-line happens, but you just correct again, perhaps with a bit more force or perhaps in the opposite direction, but you don’t jerk the wheel. Being the back seat driver screaming “TURN RIGHT,” doesn’t accomplish anything, which seems to be libertarian approach, as if we’ll listen and drive the car off the cliff. Fantasizing about how things might unfold under different extreme scenarios might be fun for empire building video games, but is kinda’ pointless to argue when talking about real life.

  50. Onlooker from Troy says:

    I’m certainly not an economics expert, but there is definitely something wrong with the Fed model and monetary policy. One really big problem that was fundamental to this whole debt bubble is that we just can’t resist dropping interest rates to try to soften the blow of a cyclical downturn. As a matter of fact it got to the point where the goal was for the good old “soft landing”; no recession at all if we could pull it off.

    That sounds really good and is very popular politically (what’s not to like, right?). Unfortunately recessions are actually healthy for the economy by forcing tough decisions about the allocation of resources. In the absence of that we get larger and larger imbalances growing and ultimately some kind of bubble forms. Once the tipping point is reached the dislocations are very painful and the fall is all that much harder.

    I don’t have any real faith that we’ve learned that lesson. As a matter of fact I still see a desire to avoid as much pain as possible thru fiscal and monetary policy. If they could engineer a soft landing, they would. Of course it’s not possible this time by a long shot. And it’ll probably be quite a long time before it’s an issue again, unfortunately.

    Some day that discussion will need to take place. I don’t have much confidence that the hard choice to let cyclical recessions take place with little meddling will be made.

  51. Onlooker from Troy says:

    By the way, I’m not saying the bubbles only form in the presence of Fed meddling. Clearly society is capable in other conditions (South Seas, tulip bulb, etc.) . I’m just saying that our well intentioned efforts at interest rate manipulation can go badly due to politically motivated, short sighted reasons.

  52. Brendan,

    the FedRes was given the ‘dual mandate’ of “price stability”, and “low unemployment”

    since it’s inception, one would need, per their own calculator, ~22x the number of U$D to buy what U$D 1 would have purchased, at their inception.

    the BLS U-6 unemployment # is now ~16%.

    tell us, how well do you think the FedRes has done?

    and, FFR, see: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/

  53. HCF says:

    @ Brendan:
    > It just proves that you have no clue how much different the economy today is than it was back then.

    Technology changes, life moves faster, but basic human nature remains the same.

    The basic questions of any political theory concern who makes the decision, who benefits from the upside, and who suffers from the downside. Libertarians merely believe that to the greatest extent possible, decisions should be made by the individual, who will then bear the consequences of his/her decision, both positive and negative.

    This general philosophical framework does not preclude the need for government, but merely aims to minimize the size and interference of one in the daily life of private citizens. I don’t see what is wrong with that…

    HCF

  54. @Karen & Leftback…all you need to know about the Fed and the ten-year bond rates, you can learn from listening to Bill Gross @ Pimco. He says the Fed will need to buy more Treasuries than they’ve already planned ($300b). They always do what Gross Bill says, so the ten-year is going up.

  55. @Brendan:

    How impossibly naive to think that a $13 trillion economy comprising 300 million people making trilliions of tiny decisions every day can be “driven”. No one can “drive” anything so impossibly broad and deep. But that is exactly what the CCP and the Soviet Union thought. Mao and the CCP “drove” its populace to starvation in the sixties until it finally abandoned the idea of “driving” an economy anywhere and unleashed the creative talents and energy of its population, culminating in today’s prosperity. The Soviet Union, well, that’s a happy memory, but fading fast….it drove itself right off the cliff.

  56. DL says:

    The Curmudgeon @ 8:29

    “They always do what Gross Bill says”.

    I have little doubt that THAT is true. But it won’t be long before the Fed loses control over the 10-year yield.

  57. HCF says:

    @DL:
    >But it won’t be long before the Fed loses control over the 10-year yield.

    This always reminds me of the gambler’s ruin problem:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambler%27s_Ruin
    “A gambler with finite wealth, playing a fair game (that is, each bet has expected value zero to both sides) will eventually go broke against an opponent with infinite wealth.”

    The question is, who has the infinite wealth here, the Fed or the markets? My guess is that a government can only print so much money before it loses all credibility and control.

    HCF

  58. Bruce in Tn says:

    Well,consumer confidence is regarded as a trash statistic by most…however retail sales are hard data and they stink once again…

    http://online.barrons.com/public/page/barrons_econoday.html

    ICSC retail sales…continue their week after week decline…and this is us not the Japanese

  59. ohemingway says:

    There were booms and busts long before ther was a Fed or any other regulation for that matter. There have been booms and bust since the Fed and regulation.

  60. VennData says:

    The GOP media machine’s talking point on Specter that “He expected to face a tough Primary” obscures this fact:

    “…With about a quarter-million Pennsylvania Republicans having switched their registration to Democratic in the last two years, analysts say the GOP primary electorate is smaller and more conservative than it was when Specter won his fifth term in 2004. That augurs well for Toomey, who also is to Specter’s right on abortion and other social issues….”

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20090323_Toomey_poised_to_take_on_Specter.html

    So no GOP, Toomey, Specter, can win the the Deep blue PA.

    And all these “Specter is a slime because he switched parties” fails to mention the morally-rudderless Ronald Reagan, who not only switched parties, but flip-flopped on the abortion issue to run for President.

  61. VD,

    “Reagan Democrats” switching from (R) to (D) to vote for Hillary in Pennsylvania’s closed Primaries would explain things neatly, no?

    funny what the Truth does..

    please don’t ask what a “closed Primary” is, I’m sure http://www.clusty.com works on your end of the WorldWideWiretap..

  62. markd says:

    @ MEH

    A Reagan Democrat was already registered as a Democrat. a-hole much?

  63. mark,

    that’s funny, but it’s obvious that you have no idea what ‘closed primaries’ do to one’s party Registration status..

  64. markd says:

    I do. I live in Pa. (where the closed primary was created), and am in my county courthouse at least 3 days a week. It was amazing how many people were lining up to change parties last year, And Obama, not Clinton won the primary in my county. And of course you ignore the point about a Reagan Democrat is a registered Democrat. So I guess the answer to my question is: yes, a lot.

  65. mark,

    Polaroid much? Universalize more?

    one courthouse out of 67? yep, that’ll explain Everything.

    last Year explains the last ~25.

    way to go..

  66. Graphite says:

    I always love the argument that “a lot of things were still bad in the year 1910, so therefore laissez-faire capitalism failed,” followed by, “things continued to improve during the 20th century, when we had regulation, so therefore regulation was a success!” Effing brilliant reasoning.

    If per-capita income measures don’t convince you that the nineteenth century was a period of remarkable progress in human welfare, the gains in life expectancy that were produced should: http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/haines.demography It’s kinda hard for the rich to live for 400 years and throw life expectancy stats out of whack.

    At any rate, if Barry wishes to post anti-libertarian critiques, he could at least find ones written by people with half a shred of credibility left, as opposed to guys like Kaufman, who was on the board of Lehman Brothers while they were helping inflate the credit bubble which he is now blaming on “libertarian dogma.”

    http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/04/anti-libertarian-nonsense-from-henry.html