Russian professor and information warrior, Igor Panarin, has predicted the collapse and breakup of the USA. (Potential artists' renderings 1 2) The interview was originally reported in the Russian newspaper, Izvestia. (Google Translated) The prediction has been met with varying levels of credulity, scoffed at by some and embraced by others. The prediction, which goes so far as to speculate exactly how the US might reorganize, was posted to Drudge and has offended many bloggers who, while excited by the prospects of secession, are insulted by the insinuation that the south may go Hispanic and not Confederate.
Have we jumped over all the hurdles in our ongoing economic fiasco? Probably not, the next hurdle is Credit Cards. [more inside]
Pollan for Agriculture Secretary? It has been suggested (and previously) that Michael Pollan, author of Second Nature, The Omnivore's Dilemma, might make a good Secretary of Agriculture. This would be a dramatic departure for an office that has a decades-long history of steering US agriculture policy to the advantage of the largest agribusiness corporations. Especially given Obama's potential connections to Big Corn, how silly would we be to anticipate real change in US ag policy, relevant as it may be to the economic, energy, climate, and national security issues he campaigned on? Via the Brian Lehrer Show.
Letter from Iceland. There you see the Iceland of today – the victim of an economic 9/11 and one of the very few places in the world where the words “financial meltdown” can be used without fear of exaggeration. [more inside]
The laughed at him. Foretelling the doom and gloom of the mortgage crisis as a pundit in these 2006-2007 interviews, Peter Schiff held to a grim economic outlook. Recently in the Washington Post, Schiff writes: "Our leaders irrationally promoted home-buying, discouraged savings, and recklessly encouraged borrowing and lending, which together undermined our markets."
Another economic post. With the debt and equity markets in a comparative calm, a lot of people are asking what next? One area little examined is the idea of sovereign risk. Basically, those with the armies make to rules, and you don't want to be invested there when they change the rules,. The USA has been the power behind globalisation for over half a century, enforcing the rules of the marketplace we have grown to accept. Some are questioning whether it can maintain this position. [more inside]
And the LORD said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"
After an historic near-collapse (p), a federal bailout to the tune of $85,000,000,000, a second federal bailout to the tune of $37,800,000,000 and one hell of a party (p), the news on A.I.G. just keeps getting better. Now: Fed arbitrage! Paying down a 9% taxpayer loan with a 2% taxpayer loan? Genius!
Financial Regime Change? Robert Wade, professor of political economy and development at the London School of Economics, "argues that we are exiting the neoliberal paradigm that has held sway since the 1980s" and considers the "causes and repercussions of the crisis, and errors of the model that brought it to fruition." Prof. Wade was making similar predictions last year.
The Wassup boys have had a tough eight years, but things are looking up. (SLYT.)
200+ Tools for Surviving the Economic Crisis l Free printable Basic Budgeting Worksheet l Building Your First Budget l How To Create a Budget l How to Make a Budget and Stick to It l Frugal Family Recipes. [more inside]
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room It's been a few years since this documentary came out, and if you haven't seen it yet, you must. Just click and watch. The film is artistically made, enlightening, and ultimately infuriating. It takes on greater resonance in light of the current economic climate. (Too many previous posts to list.)
Running Like Wildfire — Imagine a national disaster that stopped 99% of American transportation in its tracks; shut down the country; halted shipping and trade; hobbled counter-insurgency operations, and helped Boston burn down. It spread from Canada southward to Cuba and westward to the Pacific, crippling all that Americans took for granted: their cities and towns; their supplies of food and consumer goods; their jobs, businesses, and the national economy. Such was the Great Epizootic of 1872.
Retiring hedge fund manager Andrew Lahde: "All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America."
The Stakes, 2008. Eight of the Washington Monthly's contributing editors "consider the looming challenges that America is likely to face—in the economy, education, the courts, and other areas—during an Obama or McCain presidency, and how, based on what we know about the two men, they are likely to handle them." [more inside]
Sequoia Capital presentation on the bleak scenarios for the economy and how start-ups should prepare. Last week the famous (the firm funded Apple, Oracle, Cisco and Google, among others) venture capital firm Sequoia Capital held a meeting for the firm’s portfolio companies. There, partners presented their views on what went wrong with the economy, what the prospects are for a quick recovery (Hint: the presentation is called 'R.I.P. Good Times' ) and what startups can do to survive. Here are the PowerPoint slides used in their presentation. I suggest a stiff drink before viewing. VIA [more inside]
The Money Meltdown is an excellent site clearly summarizing the banking crisis, with links to articles of varying complexity, including an dry (but readable) economics paper summarizing the lessons from 42 previous banking crises and a guide from the Brookings Institution on what the next President needs to do. And yes, they also reference the podcast just discussed.
Strategery is a unique hedge fund.
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain may be computer illiterate, but his campaign does think highly of eBay. Sen. McCain and Governor Palin have each suggested eBay as a fix for the economy, tool for government reform, and strategy for homeland security. Perhaps it's because former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, in spite of disagreeing with parts of his technology platform, is co-chair of McCain's campaign?
Following the recent preciptious downturn in the US banking sector, a compromise draft bill is going to a vote in Congress today. The text of the bill [110-page pdf]; The Wall Street Journal's summary of the bill; an open-for-comments public analysis of the bill at publicmarkup.org. Some questions answered and unhappy acceptance from economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman; a strenuous rejection from Nouriel Roubini; via same, an IMF study of 42 banking crises from 1970 through 2007; further criticism from Nomi Prins for Mother Jones.
Buy My Sh*t Pile, Henry! With our economy in crisis, the US Government is scrambling to rescue our banks by purchasing their "distressed assets", i.e., assets that no one else wants to buy from them. We figured that instead of protesting this plan, we'd give regular Americans the same opportunity to sell their bad assets to the government...
Banning short selling? Firing Chris Cox? Treasury Secretary Paulson has reportedly floated the idea of an 80s-style "Resolution Trust Corporation." Maybe we're finally turning the corner...or at least stopping the hemorrhaging.
The Fed has decided to bail out A.I.G. with an $85 billion dollar loan deal, which will result in 80% of the company being owned by the government.
VP newsfilter (because someone’s got to do it) The Times just confirmed that the Obama Campaign has chosen Delaware’s 65-year-old Senator Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee’s Vice Presidential running mate. With decades of foreign policy experience (including a recent stint in war-torn Georgia), and as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, can Biden help pull the ticket out of a neck and neck tie with Senator John McCain [more inside]
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile | And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife | And you may ask yourself... Well...How did I get here?
Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies—more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there's been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town.
America's for sale. Just ask Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. With the U.S. economy in shambles, Paulson just spent four days touring the Middle East, hat in hand, looking for investors to bail us out. Specifically, on Monday, Paulson met with heads of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the world's largest "sovereign wealth fund" with roughly $875 billion in assets, and encouraged them to buy American businesses. Mortgaging America by Eric J. Weiner (LA Times Op Ed) [more inside]
The $3 Trillion Shopping Spree. "The occupation of Iraq will cost $3 trillion, America's most expensive conflict since WWII. Can YOU spend that money better? Here's your chance to go on a virtual $3 trillion shopping spree and prove it!" [Via Gristmill.]
The Rise of the Rest. Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek article about a "post-American" world.
Fiscal Pressures Lead Some States to Free Inmates Early, says the Washington Post. Across the United States, a financial crisis is brewing in our nation's correctional systems. California, which has the largest prison system in the nation, (housing 170,000 inmates with a capacity of only 100,000), plans to increase the budget for new prison construction by 7 to 14 billion dollars, on top of releasing 22,000 nonviolent prisoners on unsupervised parole. Other states, especially Michigan, face an even more dire situation... [more inside]
"Hard Numbers: The Economy is Worse than You Know" [full article for Harper's subscribers, a different abridged version] discusses how the Consumer Price Index and other US economic statistics have been manipulated over time. Among other things, the article claims, these changes make Social Security checks 70% lower than they would otherwise be. [more inside]
The Financial Crisis: An Interview with George Soros. "We are in the midst of a financial crisis the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression." (video, April 4)
The financial turmoil of 2007-?: a preliminary assessment and some policy considerations (pdf) "All episodes of financial distress of a systemic nature, with potentially significant implications for the real economy, arguably have at their root an overextension in risk-taking and in balance sheets in good times, masked by the veneer of a vibrant economy. This overextension generates financial vulnerabilities that are clearly revealed only once the economic environment becomes less benign, in turn contributing to its further deterioration." A scholarly, sane, relatively brief, accessible-to-the-layperson, and mostly apolitical look at the current turmoil.
A very special 'This American Life' about an administration with the endemic belief that laws only apply to the little people, and a limitless refusal to concede on even petty issues, no matter the costs. The highlight is about immigrant widows of US citizens (30:50). The program also discusses the constitutional beliefs of the presidential candidates. [more inside]
The leader of the Swedish Pirate Party explaining how the US went bankrupt in 1971, and has been covering it up through an accelerating whack-a-mole borrowing frenzy that is bursting right now. [more inside]
Tent cities spring up in L.A. With foreclosures rates still rising, shantytowns have started springing up in Los Angeles.
"What we are now seeing is the break up of Bretton Woods mark 2." The Guardian's economics editor, Larry Elliot, on growing fears of a global depression. [single link op-ed alert]
The Subprime Primer. [via] An entertaining, lo-fi, comic-book style explanation of the complex Subprime Mortgage mess.
A most succinct explanation of the current problems facing Wall Street.
The Upside of the Downside "I never imagined I’d find myself in the curious position of having so much more than my parents ever had, of having more, frankly, than I ever thought I would have—and yet simultaneously feeling like I’m falling behind, that I need to earn more, save more, invest more, acquire more. When did I begin to feel this anxiety of acquisition? How did I become such a jackass?"
The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn Unfortunately, many of those who claim to be working for environmental improvements lack an understanding of a few basic concepts which are absolutely critical to accomplishing anything. The idea that it is nessisary or honorable to make sacrifices to save this planet are overly simplistic and lack a true understanding of the forces at work. To use a phrase I have come to like, they are “Not even wrong.”
The return of tight money fiscal conservatism? Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker endorses Barack Obama. [more inside]