Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”
As we noted in these pages a few weeks ago, Paul Kasriel gave Michael Boskin’s selective memory a who-dat-what-for.
This morning, Barron’s picks up the same theme:
IT’S PERVERSE OF US, WE ADMIT, but we get a real kick out of a dust-up between economists. If nothing else, it demonstrates that the dismal science is not a science and not necessarily dismal.
What occasions this somewhat less than profound observation is a recent commentary of Northern Trust’s director of economic research, Paul Kasriel, taking issue with an op ed piece in our sister publication, The Wall Street Journal, by Michael Boskin, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under the first President Bush.
Mr. Boskin blamed the lackadaisical recovery on the Obama administration’s economic policies, a view that is widely shared these days. Paul avers his intention is not to argue for or against those policies, but to express wonder that in fingering the causes of the feeble recovery Mr. Boskin somehow neglected to include the extraordinary contraction in bank credit.
In making his case, Mr. Boskin compared the current recovery with more robust ones, particularly the first quarter of 1983, when Martin Feldstein was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan.
On that score, Paul finds it “curious” that Mr. Boskin makes no reference to the 1991 recovery when he was the Council’s top dog. Our initial reaction to the omission was, for gosh sakes, Paul, since when is modesty a sin?
Paul then proceeds to note that one year into the rebound in 1983, GDP growth weighed in at 7.7%, accompanied by a 6.4% growth in bank credit. That’s significantly better than the 3% rise in the first year of the present recovery, when bank credit actually contracted an awesome 7.9%.
And it also happens to be a heap better than the 2.6% rise in GDP in 1991, when bank credit rose only 1.4%.
It goes without saying, Paul concedes, that other factors besides bank credit play a part in GDP growth. But he insists that the shrinkage in bank credit has been a substantial element in the disappointing pace of this dispiriting recovery.
“If the current betting trends are to be believed, it now seems certain that a recall is in the cards” -Paddy Power, Irelands Biggest Bookmaker July 14, 2010 press release > Speaking of dumb bets: Its time to revisit a recent prediction market “winner,” and review the strengths and weaknesses of these markets: Recall this…Read More
As a follow up to yesterday’s look at Time magazine’s Housing covers, Paul Macrae Montgomery of Universal Economics was kind enough to share this report from 1992. In that research piece, Paul had made mention of an October 1st, 1990 cover story in Newsweek: The Real Estate BUST. > > How well did that cover…Read More
I have a commentary on the Time Magazine article coming this week — I find it is both inaccurate and misleading — but meanwhile, here is Jim Bianco’s take on it: ~~~ 1. Time Magazine – The Case Against Homeownership September 6, 2010 -Time: Homeownership has let us down. For generations, Americans believed that owning…Read More
Each year, I try to avoid writing anything about 9/11. But I had some issues to work through this year, and I find jotting a few notes down helps me. My personal experience on 9/11 was secondhand. I was in the LI office of the firm where I was Market Strategist. Our HQ and trading…Read More
We at the Big Picture have never been fans of economist Michael Boskin. The infamous Boskin commission was an intellectually dishonest exercise in clever ways to understate inflation, thus lowering Social Security obligations. (I found that approach cowardly, and instead offered up some SS truths). His commission helped the BLS to habitually understate inflation, the…Read More
> Martin Wolf, who has been more right during the period leading up to the crisis, and thereafter, than anyone else I can think of, blames the present economic malaise on political timidity: Obama was too cautious in fearful times: “Suppose that the US presidential election of 1932 had, in fact, taken place in 1930,…Read More
Invictus here. Been a while. Been a bit busy and, frankly, not much to say of late. As a general rule, I’d say that folks should refrain from posting on things they know nothing about. The old saying (Abraham Lincoln, I believe, Mark Twain, according to commenters’ citations, attribution in dispute) comes to mind, “Better…Read More
In this morning’s NYT column — Lehman’s Last Hours — Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote: “But what is clear is that the politics of the moment played a factor — or at least was discussed among senior and junior staff — in the decision not to lend to Lehman Brothers, perhaps the greatest mistake of the…Read More
Amongst the items coming out of the FCIC hearings last week were new docs that revealed exactly how over-reliant LEH was on daily, short term funding to cover their longer terms costs. It was a recipe for disaster, a trailer park in search of a tornado. Here is the WSJ: “In looking last week at…Read More