Category Archives: History

One reason Congress is broken? Negative ads cripple even the winners.


By David B. McLennan – These ads matter — but not in the ways that the candidates and their campaign consultants hope they do. When the negative barrage of ads is over, the winner will likely emerge with an approval rating well under 50 percent.

Majority of winning candidates take office without the majority support of the citizens they represent. They can no longer legitimately cite the “will of the people” in proposing legislation — because they are not in a position of strength when it comes to public support. Elected officials now often have little or no honeymoon period – even with the voters who supported them. more> http://tinyurl.com/l6vox44

Is China’s Bubble the Next Financial Crisis?


By Mark Whitehouse – The Chinese credit boom has rapidly turned the country into one of the developing world’s most indebted, according to a new report (pdf) from London’s Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Such credit-fueled growth can’t be sustained for long without causing major distortions and setting the country up for a fall.

The stimulus is already running into diminishing returns. Over the five years through 2013, government and private debt grew by about 3 yuan for each added yuan of economic activity, a level of credit intensity that the U.S. exceeded only in the years leading up to the 2008 crisis. more> http://tinyurl.com/k5985du

The Wonks Battle for the Fed


By Noah Smith – These days, essentially all of the pre-2008 models have fallen out of favor, replaced by models where finance is the key. Most people would agree that’s a good thing.

But those models are going to have just as hard a time getting conclusive support from the data, because there just isn’t much data.

So again, conclusions about whether the Fed should print money and buy bonds to fight recessions will come down to intuition. As Robert Waldmann says, “The models change but the policy proposals remain the same.” more> http://tinyurl.com/k2vkost

Your Debt, Our Nation’s Headache


By Barry Ritholtz – Assets purchased with cheap and widely available credit become worth significantly less once the bubble bursts. But the debt remains.

All of that leverage used to purchase all of those assets — regardless of whether it’s subprime mortgages or dot-com stocks — sticks around.

Hence, a post-credit-crisis recovery is dominated not by the release of pent-up demand, but by massive corporate, household and government deleveraging. more> http://tinyurl.com/pryw54s

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How Harvard Minted ‘Free Money’


By Stephen Mihm – In the mid-19th century, most Ivy League presidents hailed from the ranks of the Protestant clergy: affable theologians with considerable academic training and limited knowledge of financial matters.

Enter Charles W. Eliot [2], Harvard’s 21st president. When he took over in 1869, it was a sleepy little college. By the time he left in 1909, he had bequeathed an educational powerhouse that had established an almost insurmountable lead in the race to become the world’s richest university. more> http://tinyurl.com/q6o4k28

Global Living Planet Index


By Tom Randall – If animals were stocks, the market would be crashing.

To say the index of animals is underperforming humans is an understatement. More than half of the world’s vertebrates have disappeared between 1970 and 2010.

Humans are currently drawing more from natural resources than the Earth is able to provide. It would take about 1.5 planet Earths to meet the present-day demands that humanity currently makes on nature, according to the WWF (pdf).

If all the people of the world had the same lifestyle as the typical American, 3.9 planet Earths would be needed to keep up with demand. more> http://tinyurl.com/mdb9wjg

Secret Fed Tapes Recorded Goldman’s Capital Game


By Matt Levine – Do read/listen to the story though! It’s fascinating …

… wait. Is that not how it’s supposed to go?

One conclusion you might draw from the tapes is that the regulators and the banks had a very different conception of what social practice they were engaged in.

Goldman was helping Santander play a game against its regulators, while the New York Fed just wanted to be friends with Goldman and not make too much trouble.

It certainly makes it easier to win a game if the other side doesn’t know it’s playing. more> http://tinyurl.com/lq9l238

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