In Ohio, a federal judge rules that Ohio has to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. This is going to roll through every state, company, organization, municipality. If it is unconstitutional for the federal government to discriminate against legally married couples, then it is surely unconstitutional for any other entity to do the same. Great news. If I was a responsible party at a government entity or a company, I’d make sure my organization was in compliance now, no point in waiting for the inevitable lawsuit.
However you feel about Snowden’s actions, whether he is a patriot or traitor, brilliant or naive, you have to give him credit for having the balls to take a stand. He has put his life and liberty at risk for something he believes in. He has thrown away his career, his relationships, his home, everything. I’m not completely sure how I feel about all his actions, though I have a strong bias towards more openness and more government accountability and more transparent oversight. But I certainly admire his courage.
Contrast with members of Congress who apparently were afraid to break a subcommittee rule. Gosh, what happens if you break a subcommittee rule, do you have to sit at the wrong table at lunch, or do you lose your parking pass, or do you have to wear a funny hat on Thursdays? It must be horrific.
* “FiveThirtyEight”:http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/ and other election watchers have made it crystal clear that candidate attention has moved entirely to swing states — and increasingly swing counties and swing demographics within those states. You have to believe this trend will continue, and we will see ever finer-grained focus on counties, on precincts, on finer and finer demographic cuts. By the time of the 2040 election, every political ad and pollster will be focused on dental technicians aged 24-32 in Hilliard, Ohio. Heck, one poor voter in Delaware, Ohio may be the swing voter for the entire election, the campaign buses will just park in front of his/her house. OK maybe not quite that bad, but I have no reason to believe we will ever see much of a presidential candidate in Washington ever again (save for primaries). Seems unfortunate.
* Traffic at FiveThirtyEight has probably been off the charts in the last several weeks, leaving me to wonder — is this the future of journalism? In-depth numerical analysis and modelling using big data tools, to back up insights and observations? Any blogger can spew opinions, so it does seem like “professional” journalists may have to move in new directions and embrace a new generation of analytic tools if they want to separate from the pack of bloggers. Journalism training becomes very different in this world, the standard toolset on a journalist’s desktop becomes very different.
I recently posted “my thoughts on the upcoming presidential election”:http://theludwigs.com/2012/10/why-i-will-vote-for-obama-in-the-presidential-election/, and a couple people mentioned how concerned they were about economic issues. Hey, me too! They aren’t the most important issues for me this election, but I worry about deficits, taxes, government expenditures, economic growth.
The only viable path out of our economic problems is growth:
* We are running large budget deficits. These deficits lead to even more interest payments in the future, compounding the deficit problem. Someday this will all come home to roost, we would be well advised to get our own house in order now.
* We run large deficits in part because of excessive government expenditures. Our governments (federal, state, local) spend an unimaginable amount of money, much of it on entitlements and interest payments that have proven to be pretty much politically untouchable. We can try to cut discretionary expenses, but there just isn’t enough we can cut to make a dent. And we are already underfunding education among other things.
* The other reason for our large deficits is that we just don’t bring in enough tax revenue. We could raise tax revenues via dramatic tax increases but the levels necessary to wipe out the deficits would be staggering and this is also politically impossible.
* We could print money freely to address our shortfalls, we are pretty much already doing that, and massive inflation is not appealing. This is not a sustainable approach.
* So we are left with increasing tax receipts not via tax increases but via economic growth — more sales, more exports, more employers, more jobs. Economic growth is the best way (and only politically viable way) to address the budget shortfalls and to generate the job growth we need.
Improving our growth rate is not a one-time issue. A single dose of government intervention dollars doesn’t lead to sustained growth over 30-40 years. Creating a bunch of public sector government-financed jobs doesn’t result in real economic growth. We need policies that will result in enduring growth in the private sector. Instead, our politicians largely focus on short term moves — job growth next year, short term tax policies, relatively short term accelerants — bailouts, rate cuts, cash infusions, goosing the housing market, etc. This all seems mostly like noise, a lot of the benefits are temporary or get sucked up by cronies and insiders. How much did the bank bailouts help the man on the street? I’ve yet to meet an individual who has said to me “thank goodness for those bank bailouts, they really made a difference in my life.” Maybe if I lived in New York.
I don’t understand all the levers for growth. I am not an economist or public policy expert, I am just a guy who has lived for a while, has been employed in various roles in the tech industry, and has tried to be observant and thoughtful. I have spent my career in the tech industry, which has grown dramatically, and provided a lot of great jobs. My sense is we need to focus on education, and the commons.
Education is kind of the obvious point. We need better K-6 education so that everyone has a solid basis in reading and basic arithmetic. Great public high schools and colleges so that everyone can build out the skills they need to start their careers. Mid-life re-education of adults as industries change. STEM education of course, but also design and arts education. Our country made a dramatic investment in education early on with public schools, this bore great fruit. We’ve made further dramatic investments over the centuries — land-grant colleges, ongoing federal support of research. We need new dramatic programs, something that creates the world-class education system for the next century. I don’t know what the “Apollo” program for education should be, but we need one. If we expect to have sustainable job growth greater than the developed country average, and particularly growth in high-paying “good” jobs, then we probably need to have the best-equipped populace in the world.
The other area of policy focus should be the “commons”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commons. Our investment in common, public domain systems and knowledge has resulted in massive economic growth. The design of the “transistor was thrown in public domain by att”:http://money.howstuffworks.com/att4.htm which allowed thousands of firms to innovate around the transistor and integrated circuits, causing the explosion of the electronics industry. Unix was put into the public domain, resulting in the explosion of much of the software and services industry. The internet was put into the public domain by early federal government funding, and the (public domain) world wide web was layered on top of the internet, resulting in the explosion of internet companies. PC design was basically thrown in public domain by the cloners with support of Microsoft and Intel, resulting in the massive expansion of the PC industry. Imagine if any one of these events had not happened — we would have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of tech companies and innovation. So, where is the next commons, what is the next huge piece of public domain technology or infrastructure, what is the government doing to encourage the creation of this?
I have some thoughts for the next great piece of commons, I am sure there are other equally good or better ideas:
* spectrum access. Today the government grants fixed licenses to corporations who pay large prices for the spectrum, and who then do their best to mine the value of that spectrum for their own corporate wellbeing. As a result, a few large corporations have a choke hold on how most of the spectrum is used. In a few cases (WiFi), spectrum use is a little more wide open, and these have been areas of great ferment and innovation. We should look at mechanisms and technologies that would get fixed spectrum allocation out of the hands of large corporate entities, and instead allow more dynamic and innovative use. There are plenty of smart people who have already thought hard about software radios, dynamic spectrum access, ultra wideband spectrum use, and many other topics involved, we should throw our government weight behind some of this thinking.
* healthcare and life sciences. I am not very smart about things biological, but I wonder what the transistor analog is in life sciences. I wonder what the IP/internet equivalent is in healthcare. Information sharing in healthcare seems absolutely primitive — in 2012, I am still faxing in requests for test results to one of the largest hospitals on the west coast, and getting results back by fax or physical mail.
* 3D printing. This is a nascent technology for geeks only now. But very soon it seems like nearly anyone will be able to make, cost-effectively, almost any small part out of a huge variety of materials. This has dramatic implications for so many industries. However, people are already trying to lock up patents around this technology, we are not clearly on a path to an open environment where people can easily share designs, improve designs, iterate quickly on designs, all in an open web-like environment.
* Energy. What if battery technology was 10x and 10x more open for everyone’s use? If someone invents the next great battery, is it really good for our economy if this invention is locked up in one product?
Cutting across all these areas is the operation of the patent system. It has become ungainly and largely misapplied. Originally designed for the advancement of science and arts by putting designs into the public domain after some time, the focus now seems to be on locking up inventions and preventing the movement of knowledge into the public domain. Count me among those campaigning for a dramatic rethink.
I think these issues cut right to the heart of trade deficits too. If we can have the most educated populace, with the richest commons infrastructure on which to build new industries, then I am pretty sure we can create things that the rest of the world wants.
So: Education, Commons Investment, Patent Reform, all leading to long-term sustained economic growth, which will allow us to grow out of current deficit and budget issues. Important issues, but as far as this election goes, I don’t feel like either candidate is doing anything distinctive. I’ve read some nice things about Obama’s “Race to the top” program, but that is a drop on the bucket of the things we need to do in the education area. I don’t see any leadership on patent or commons issues from either of them. I hear a bunch of frothing about marginal tax rates which I think is largely irrelevant (and I hear nothing about the massive money printing operation at the Fed, apparently the candidates feel that is too complicated for us to understand). So pretty much a yawner of an election on economics issues in my view.
I am pretty apolitical. I view government as a necessary evil. The political process seems horribly compromised, most politicians seem hopelessly compromised. The campaign ads make me barf. I will be happy when election season is over. Usually I just keep my head down during the season and try to keep my views to myself.
But Facebook has made me increasingly uncomfortable with that policy. I get a flood of political traffic in my timeline every day. Many of these postings espouse positions that I don’t agree with, and I worry that my silence implies my assent. And I feel like the “new normal” is to share your political views, and that perhaps this might even be a good thing, leading to more citizen participation in politics. So I am going to try to be a more involved participant, starting by explaining my vote for Obama in the presidential election.
In considering my vote, I take the long view. What is the impact of my vote on the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years — the remainder of my life, and the heart of my children’s life. The issues of the moment will pass — no one will remember the fine points of the debates this month. The exact marginal tax rate doesn’t matter that much, we have survived adequately as a nation with rates as low as 15% and as high as 90%. The foreign policy crises of the moment will be forgotten. What matters are the structural policy decisions we make that will create enduring change in our society.
For me, fairness and openness are at the heart of our society, the uncompromisable core. Do we treat everyone equally? Does everyone feel like they have a fair shot at the good things in life? Can we talk openly about our society and its problems without fear of reprisal? Can we be critical of our institutions and practices? Do we embrace the diversity in our society and the richness it brings? Does everyone feel valued, and is everyone engaged positively in building a better society? Is everyone’s voice heard? Do we have open processes to make changes in our society?
If we break openness and fairness in our society, then it is very hard to move on and work on any other set of issues. Without openness and fairness, people disengage in productive activities. They engage in civil disobedience or worse. The nation loses its moral authority and leadership abroad.
There are three current openness/fairness issues in front of us, and Obama is in the right on two of them:
* A significant portion of our population feels discriminated against today, due to the same-sex marriage issue. They face discrimination in the tax code. In adoption and guardianship issues. In access to health insurance and benefits. In times of critical health issues. And in many more ways. We need to fix this, and fix it at the federal level, it is wrong to have variation in this basic civil right state by state. After some dithering, Obama is moving to the right position on this issue.
* Healthcare is another fairness issue. It is hard to pursue happiness if you are fighting health problems or can’t even get basic healthcare. It is terrible that kids don’t have access to uniform care, it is terrible that young mothers can’t get basic healthcare. It is bad that you have to work for a large corporation to get decent coverage. Obamacare is a tepid and compromised first step to addressing our healthcare issues, and not every aspect of it is right. But it is an attempt to address the issues, and we need to be moving ahead, not stepping backwards.
* Campaign finance is a threat to the openness of our society. The lack of any limits on corporate giving is bizarre, we are letting our political process be corrupted by corporations and organizations. This hits right at the “of the people, by the people, for the people” principle. I am a believer in a simple rule — if you can vote, you can give money. If you can’t vote, you shouldn’t be able to donate. Neither party is doing us any favors here, they both have their snouts in the campaign finance trough.
These are not the only openness and fairness issues — we have many more we need to work on. Access to quality education. Transparency in banking and finance. Privacy rights. Women’s rights. But these 3 are on my mind and on 2 of them, there are material differences between the candidates.
These issues trump everything else in the long run. Yes we need to work on economic growth, but to what end if our society and values are compromised? Yes we need to work on the budget and deficits. Yes we have foreign policy issues. But these will all be easier to work on if all our citizenry is valued and engaged, if we can talk openly about our issues, and if our institutions are not compromised.
Then the car was super late. And the interior was very tight. And the performance wasn’t that outstanding. And I loved my Audi. And I couldn’t justify the expense.
To my surprise they called me last month and offered me my deposit back, I figured that money was long gone.
@shanselman has been sharing a lot of tweets today on the topic of healthcare and startups. For example:
The shared assertion is — the lack of easily available health insurance is preventing a lot of people from joining or creating startups. Nothing scientific about this data, it is all anecdotal, but I certainly empathize with the view. Health insurance has certainly been a factor in my personal career decisions over the last decade. I know a half dozen people who have wrestled with the issue as they have considered startup opportunities. My sense is that people are willing to take a lot of salary and equity risk, but they can’t put their family’s healthcare at risk, particularly if they are starting young families.
The current US system is certainly biased towards employment with large established employers. I wonder if the upcoming legislated changes will help to create more movement to small businesses and startups. I wonder if we couldn’t do even more to a) make movement to startups easy, and b) provide coverage in the event of startup failure, so that personal risk is minimized.
There is a lot of wailing and teeth gnashing about our patent system and how that is an impediment to entrepreneurs, but I can’t help but wonder if access to healthcare and health insurance is an even greater impediment.
Update: Marcello wrote a “very reasoned piece”:http://www.geekwire.com/2012/healthcare-reform-todays-ruling-great-news-startups/ on this topic in June, worth a look.
“Rob (@mtnspring) is onto something here”:https://twitter.com/#!/mtnspring/status/173485019560558592. Health insurance is a huge lock-in for corporations. If an employee has a family, and/or ongoing health concerns, it is very hard for them to walk away into the morass of COBRA, pre-existing conditions, etc. I have to believe that people would be far more willing to take startup risk if they knew it would have no impact on health care for themselves or their family.
“Mitt pays $3M+ in taxes a year”:http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-romney-tax-20120125,0,7825338.story — that is a s%^tload of money, whatever the rate. And people want another $3M a year out of him? When I see numbers this size, I wonder more about where it is all going — shouldn’t we spend more time on what the heck the government is doing with all this money? OK yes I am a big fan of fairness and I hate the shenanigans that have gone on at our largest financial institutions, but we ought to spend a lot more time looking at what we are getting for all our tax dollars. I get more outraged about handouts to big banks than I do about this tax rate issue.
“SOPA and PIPA are beyond dangerous”:http://www.slashgear.com/ted-talk-video-on-sopa-and-pipa-makes-it-all-crystal-clear-18209813/ — the whole tech industry has been railing like crazy against these, it sure would be good if the industry would focus instead on how to help content creators protect their IP and get paid for their work. I’d like to see authors and singers and movie directors get paid a lot of money, I think they should be allowed to charge whatever they want for their products, I don’t think any of us have the right to copy their works willy nilly. These industries employ a lot of creative people in good jobs in the USA and I think we should encourage this. It is easy to sit back and pee all over the movie industry and the Senate and House, but we should spend time on more productive activities that help solve the problems.
Apple blows it out. Ok I lied, I am not feeling contrary about Apple at all. Blowing it out of the water, customers love them, competitors in disarray, upside internationally and in PCs, iPad 3 and iPhone 5 and Apple TV opportunities ahead of them. Apple has only their own egos to fear.
From today’s NYT article on Apple’s offshore manufacturing:
“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries”, a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”
I’m not completely angry about this view, this might be the correct and legitimate attitude for a multinational corporation. But it is clearly not the correct attitude for a US citizen and participant in the political process. Citizens do have an obligation to solve America’s problems.
So someone asked me “Hey, with your views on the Occupy movement, how do you feel about the fact that the top 10% pays 70% of federal income tax? Is that fair?”
First of all, this is NOT the Occupy issue that gets me most excited — I am much more interested in limiting corporate political contributions. But I do have a view.
I have no idea if these statistics are accurate, but I assume that the top 10% does pay a much larger share of the total income tax load. So is that fair? Well, I am guessing that the top 10% also own a huge % of the Audis and BMWs in the country, eat a disproportionate share at the finest restaurants, take a huge % of the vacation trips to Hawaii, have a disproportionate share of the nicest houses, etc etc. Gosh that doesn’t seem fair either.
The goal of our market system and society is not fairness in outcomes; there is always going to be variance in outcomes, sometimes due to skill, sometimes due to luck. Some people will earn a lot more, and will get a greater share of the positive benefits as well as costs. Rather, the goal is equality of opportunity — every citizen should have the opportunity to achieve their dreams, no doors should be closed at the start of their life/career.
Thus I don’t get cranked about higher tax burdens or higher tax rates for the wealthy. So someone who is extraordinarily successful has to carry a higher share of the cost of operating our society, well boo hoo. I do get more cranked about issues that affect equality of opportunity — lack of funding for public schools, lack of equal healthcare for all children, lack of access to other education for lower income students (and this is why we give a lot to scholarship programs at OSU, at UW, at the Point Foundation, etc).
Outcomes will never be equal and we shouldn’t try to level them out, the free market system is powerful and we need to nurture it. But we should try to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue happiness — and to me that means everyone gets a fair starting point: a reasonable education, good health, and no crushing debt load to start out.
I’ve been fortunate. I had great access to education due to support from my parents, and I was lucky to be at Microsoft during a very heady period for the company. I am clearly a 1%er. And I understand that my good fortune is part luck, part due to the support of others, part due to the free market capitalistic structure that our society has created. A little bit of my fortune is due to my hard work but many people have worked hard and received less — I’ve been lucky.
I’ve been watching the #OccupyWallStreet activity with interest. In my heart, I have great empathy for the movement. Growing up in flyover country, I never felt very warm about the government and financial elite on the East Coast, I viewed them with suspicion. And then having spent most of my adult life on the West Coast, surrounded by entrepreneurial activities at work and liberal attitudes, I have not grown to feel any warmer about large corporations or government involvement.
So when I see people expressing their feelings of lack of justice, lack of representation, antipathy towards the entrenched financial and governmental powers, I tend to empathize with the people on the street. And I applaud heartily their active peaceful engagement in the political process — they have the right to take to the streets in peaceful fashion, they have the right to be heard, they are not doing anything to harm anyone. So without even really understanding the goals of the movement, I applaud and encourage the people involved. It is hugely positive to see people have this level of passion about the issues in our society, and to be fully engaging in participative democracy. Go go go!
A couple of smart and committed young people sent me this “Why Occupy Wall Street? 4 reasons” video as a way of explaining why they are participating in the demonstrations. It is a worthwhile watch. The video lays out 4 principles:
* Re-regulate the financial institutions by reinstating Glass-Steagall. I am not informed enough to know the exact form of banking regulation we should have, but the financial services industry has demonstrated that it is not effective in controlling its own risk profile, or limiting the impact of their risks on the rest of society. A discussion about regulation and risk limitation seems like a good thing.
* Audit the Fed. Certainly greater transparency around the Fed, and its relationship with major financial institutions, seems to be a good idea. The relationships between the Treasury, the Fed, and major financial institutions, based on people circulating between all three, need more openness and examination and perhaps regulation.
* Reverse #08-205 by amendment. I feel very strongly about this one. Corporations do not have the right to vote, they should not have the right to manipulate the political process, they should be barred from funding candidates and causes. I see nothing good from allowing corporations to spend money on politics, it is corrupting. Fully fully support!
* Overhaul 1%/Corp tax code. I am not sure exactly what this means, I can tell you I have paid a lot of taxes, a lot. I am not against paying a fair rate and I am not against a progressive tax. I’d be all for a simpler system because my tax return is a huge freaking disaster. I think there is a larger issue here though, I don’t think the problem is all on the revenue side, I think you have to look at the expense side too and rein in government spending. So — all in favor of fair taxes, but we need to look at the spending side too.
I know that not everyone in the #OccupyWallStreet demonstrations embraces these exact 4 principles, so I am not saying I approve 100% of the demonstrator’s goals — but these particular points seem like great discussions to have, and I fully support the efforts to confront us all with these issues.
One thing I am wondering now is this — what exactly do the 99% want those of us who are supportive to do? How can I be effective in advancing the discussions around these points? Demonizing the 1% is not an effective strategy, some of us embrace reform, and we need a way to engage on the issues in a productive manner. Don’t paint us all with the same brush. Help us to help you.
Having spent way too much time with healthcare providers, insurance companies, etc, in the last 4 years, I certainly support change. Almost any change, change for change’s sake, is worth trying, because the system is not very satisfying right now. We should clearly try to do something. So I am inclined towards supporting the new proposals in Congress. I need to get smarter about the details.
In general, shifting power away from the monied interests — insurance companies, pharma companies, large healthcare organizations — and towards the individuals — patients and doctors — is the right thing to do. Do the proposals achieve this? I don’t know. Certainly some insurance companies are pissed off which is probably a good sign, tho other pharma and insurance companies are funding support ads which is concerning — if they are so excited about the proposals, it probably means money in their pockets, and that money is coming from someone.
I kind of hate the fact that all these large organizations — pharma, insurance cos, the various NGOs — are even participating in the discussion. My view is that only voters/citizens should participate, it should be illegal for all these other entities to fund ads and lobbying efforts.
Journalists Rejoin Relieved Friends, Family in U.S. – washingtonpost.com — it is awesome that these folks have been freed, and it is generally a good thing that we have found a way to talk to North Korea and have a success at something, here’s hoping that this event will contribute to calmer relations with the country.
But as a country we have expended a lot of dollars and diplomatic chips to get these folks free. I hope that we present the folks with a big bill for services rendered — if you go poking around in dangerous places in the world (like these folks, who goes hiking in Iraq/Iran for gosh sakes, was that really the only place you could think of to go hiking??), you should not expect that all the other taxpayers in the country are going to carry the cost of rescuing you. Yes we will rescue you, but there will be a reckoning for services rendered.
Gleaned from the twittersphere:
- FT.com / Comment / Opinion – Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world. Man some good common sense in here.
- Business plans a waste of time. Sounds like your typical entrepreneur would be far better off meeting people and networking than spending time on a plan. There is probably some minimum level of plan worth getting to, and then after that it is not clear
People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they’re not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d’etat. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.
The crisis was the coup de grace: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve — “our partners in the government,” as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.
Cassano, by contrast, was just a greedy little turd with a knack for selective accounting who ran his scam right out in the open, thanks to Washington’s deregulation of the Wall Street casino. “It’s all about the regulatory environment,” says a government source involved with the AIG bailout. “These guys look for holes in the system, for ways they can do trades without government interference. Whatever is unregulated, all the action is going to pile into that.”
The most galling thing about this financial crisis is that so many Wall Street types think they actually deserve not only their huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles but the awesome political power their own mistakes have left them in possession of. When challenged, they talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40.
“But wait a minute,” you say to them. “No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what’s left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not throwing your ass in jail instead?”
But before you even finish saying that, they’re rolling their eyes, because You Don’t Get It. These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.
Who is getting the bank bailout money – CNNMoney.com. Wow, $10.5Trillion so far. $35,000 from each US citizen’s pocket. To pay for years of poor decision making, greedy decision making. F%^k.
“That would drive managers out of the United States.” via Treasury Maps New Era of Regulation – WSJ.com.
So just wondering, why would driving hedge funds out of business in this country be a bad thing? How many inventions have they funded, how many jobs created? What is the biggest success story for the country to come out of a hedge fund? I know that individuals have certainly had some huge positive economic outcomes, but what has been the big positive outcome for the country? I may be completely ignorant about the big positive success stories, I need to learn.
Ben was so right | The Big Picture. The backlash against AIG bonus backlash is in full swing. I for one am glad though that the bonus issue has exploded. While the dollars involved are not material to our country, the message and discussion about values is perhaps the most important issue to our country.
- “The prospect of hundreds of billions of newly minted dollars coursing through the global financial system caused currency traders to thrash the greenback by almost 3%.”
- ” The Fed is “now bringing out all the ammo in its arsenal”, according to Rosenberg.”
- “And, for those who think the time is ripe for upping their equity allocations, Mr. Rosenberg would like to remind them of what happened to buyers of the Nikkei 225 after Quantitative Easing was tried in Japan. Longs were treated to a 20% rally that lasted six weeks before stocks set new lows just four months later. Ultimately, predicts Rosenberg, QE helps bond buyers more than stock buyers.”
- “But since I doubt dollar holders will sit idly by as the paper they hold shrinks in value, I see a quick and happy resolution as being a low probability event. Then again, other central banks (the BOE & SNB) are engaging in the same currency-busting policies, so it’s not altogether clear whether the world’s fiat currency system can survive a war of attrition.”
- “We’ve arrived at this unfortunate juncture in our nation’s financial history because of reckless behavior in both New York and Washington D.C.”
- “Let us all hope the U.S. experiment with pushing the button on Quantitative Easing is more successful for us than it was for the Japanese. But given all the behavior that brought us to this point, we will need to be both lucky and good from this point forward.”
Hard to feel good about nearterm prospects for anything. Betting on volatility seems to be the smartest thing. Holding any asset seems risky.