Posts filed under “Current Affairs”

Of Magic Asterisks

Invictus here to talk a little politics and fiscal economics (which is to say there’s politics in this post and if you’re not here for an occasional dose of politics, skip this post):

On October 3, 2008, Paul Ryan took to the floor of the House to speak in favor of the EMERGENCY ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT OF 2008. With a Republican in the White House, Representative Ryan apparently had a clear understanding of the severity of the crisis at hand (though we were actually already 10 months into recession). Emphasis mine:

Madam Speaker, over the last few days we have heard about LIBOR, commercial papers, spreads, swaps, about the credit markets. This chart shows you just how bad things are in the credit markets. But what does any of this stuff mean? What is credit? Credit is confidence, it is credibility, trustworthiness in someone’s ability to pay.

Right now, our system is plagued with fear. There is no confidence. There is no trust. Lenders don’t trust borrowers; sellers don’t trust buyers.

This bill, as flawed as it is, goes right to this issue. If it works, it stops that fear from spreading into outright panic.

Will this bill prevent a recession? No, I don’t think it will. But it will help us make sure that a recession is short and shallow, and not deep and long.

I know one thing for sure. Doing nothing is the worst thing we could do. This is one of those once-in-a-century kind of crises, and we need to act to prevent it from becoming a once-in-a-century kind of a recession. In Wisconsin, we are already beginning to see the beginning of this. We are already starting to see the job losses.

For me, this is a conscience vote. We of all people understand public opinion. We know it is not popular. But we see that gathering storm, we see it out there on the horizon. Our constituents may be outside mowing their lawns and looking up and seeing a sunny sky, but we see those storm clouds developing. And I want to know for sure that when the choice was made, I had made the decision to prevent that storm from gathering, to prevent those jobs from being lost, to protect our constituents from losing their retirement funds, from not getting that home loan, that car loan.

I want to make sure that what we do here today snaps that fear out of the market and preserves those jobs, and makes sure that the bumpy road we are going to have is not nearly as bumpy as it would otherwise be if this bill fails.

Then Obama beat McCain and everything changed (along with Rep Ryan’s “conscience,” apparently, given his subsequent record).

And now that we’ve had (still have, actually) what Representative Ryan referred to as a “once-in-a-century” kind of crisis, he’s done little but criticize or obstruct whatever efforts the Obama administration has made while simultaneously offering up budgets and “solutions” that remind me more of South Park’s Underpants Gnomes Profit Plan than actual economics – like when his 2011 budget proposal was scored by Heritage to produce a 2.8% unemployment rate by 2021, an outcome so absurd that it was literally disappeared within 24 hours.

Ryan may give the appearance of seriousness (the Romney campaign is counting on it), but even a cursory look at his proposals exposes their fraudulence.

See more here.

Those who don’t want to take my word for it (fair enough) may want to heed David Stoockman.



Inconvenient Numbers? Change ‘em.

Strawman Alert



Category: Current Affairs, Economy, Politics

US Gun Homicide & Cost Data

Morbid (but interesting) discussion on the way home this evening about gun related deaths in the US. Here is the data I dug up: The United States has the highest rate of gun related injuries (not deaths per capita) among developed countries. In terms of their Firearm homicide rate (per 100,000 pop), only 8 nations…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis

The Fourth By The Numbers

As you prepare to consume a fifth (or more) on the Fourth, some factoids from the good folks at the Census Bureau. A happy Fourth of July to all. @TBPInvictus The Fourth of July 2012 On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on…Read More

Category: Current Affairs

Austerity At Work

Covering the waterfront of some recent economic and political matters, herewith some thoughts as you prepare to enjoy your summer’s first Bloody Mary: I’ve still not seen a supply side response to this wonderful piece by Mark Dow. If anyone has, please drop a link in comments. President Obama was excoriated recently for his clearly…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Federal Reserve, Politics

If Information Is Power, What Is Lack Of Information?

I’m going to take the charitable (though probably mistaken) view and say that Representative Daniel Webster was not deliberately trying to turn out the lights on Americans’ access to critical data when he proposed an amendment to defund the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). I tried (unsuccessfully) last year (here, here) to salvage the…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Markets, Politics

Hey, Big Spender

I’ve written about this before, but since Paul Krugman just posted about it, perhaps it’s time to revisit the issue. Professor Krugman’s chart, in my opinion, doesn’t go far enough in that it does not provide sufficient context. While the chart does show the YoY percent decline in Real Government Expenditures & Investment, it does…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Markets, Politics

Merrill’s Heroes

Invictus here. BR’s comments yesterday, plus some unfortunate softball media coverage, led me to today’s rant. There are few things in the world that annoy me more than revisionist history, especially when it’s done to burnish one’s own damaged legacy. To make a George Bush/Osama bin Laden analogy,  I don’t think that much about Merrill…Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Current Affairs, Really, really bad calls

A Quick (and Belated) Look at Flow of Funds

Though the data are always a bit dated, the Fed’s Flow of Funds report is always of interest to me, as it paints fairly comprehensive pictures.  My favorite part of the release is Table B.100: Balance Sheet of Households and Nonprofit Organizations, in which much can be gleaned about the health of households in the…Read More

Category: Credit, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Research

Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool…

…than to open it and remove all doubt. Invictus here.  I usually know exactly where I’m going when I sit down to write a post — some numbers tell me a story that I think would be interesting to be share. Not so this time. I’ve wondered often and aloud what it takes these days…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Media, Politics, Think Tank

Invictus here. Interested parties were treated to a fascinating debate on the evening of November 14, as the Munk Debates assembled four estimable economic minds to debate the following resolution: Be it resolved North America faces a Japan-style era of high unemployment and slow growth Arguing the pro side of the resolution were David Rosenberg…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Cycles, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Federal Reserve, Wages & Income