Career Day

Monday, March 09, 2009

Like ATK Regular Mike says, we need to get educated and get loud. The methods behind the current "solutions" to the financial debacle are certainly not helping, as more and more money gets rolled into neat little cigar-shapes and smoked. Regular offenders like Citibank and AIG, and even GM (which is arguably part of the overall crisis) keep coming back to the trough, and getting everything they ask for as legislators act all indignant about giving it to them again (which they do). Oscar-worthy performances all around.

Arguments made all over the intertubes about the financial sector revolving door [lots of Mike's Neighborhood love on ATK today...] between Wall Street and K Street suggest that this is part of the problem, and I tend to agree despite the fact that I too am an evil lobbyist (though not for any financial institutions!).

But here's where I am stuck: what do we do instead? Cole's Balloon Juice thinks that just letting banks fail is not a solution. It's one thing for me to write Stabenow and Levin once a week and bitch at them for supporting more money-chucking. But my letters feel empty in that unlike a lot of other bitching I do at my elected officials, I have not been able to say "instead of X, do Y." In this case, I have no idea what "Y" is.

So I leave it to the giant mental muscle that is our ATK community. What do we do instead?

I'll start. I said "nationalize the banks, and make the Fed Chairman an elected position" on another blog. An elected fed chairman would be accountable to "the people," and imagine what listening to campaigning for that position would do for our national conversations on economy.

React. Make up your own. Today is career day, and ATK is looking for an economist.

39 comments:

Pete 9:20 AM  

Ack! Nationalize the banks??? Are you kidding? Would the fed chairman be as accountable as any other elected office? Because all those elected officials sure seem to listen now, don't they....

IMHO, there needs to be oversight of some sort, but as minimal as possible. The federal government should guide and direct via policy, but should be hands off as far as actual implementation and execution. Federal programs tend to be a black hole for money and efficiency, and people can argue that they'll change that and it'll be better all they want - but when has that ever been the case?

I hear the Feds are having a contest - $420 billion to whomever comes up with the best idea to fix the financial crisis...woohoo!

Smitty 9:43 AM  

I hear the Feds are having a contest - $420 billion to whomever comes up with the best idea to fix the financial crisis...woohoo!

You watched SNL, I see...

Would the fed chairman be as accountable as any other elected office?

Compared to the Fed's current accountability, which is zero? And this past election showed that even the strongest incumbents can get ousted.

Bob 10:28 AM  

Elect the chairman of the Federal Reserve to instill accountability? Tell me you are kidding.

Where do you work again Smitty? As if our elected officials somehow have a monopoly on accountability?

Frankly, I have found that appointed people are far more accountable for the job they do, and are often the voice of reason in an administration. If the fed chairman or other appointee does something stupid it’s often because her/she really believes it (right or wrong) or he/she was told to do it by the executive. If the elected makes a reasonable appointment, that person usually has expertise that the executive lacks.

Even if an appointee is a corrupt ass, it’s not because they were too far from the public to be accountable. We have hundreds of federally elected officials that are no more accountable than any bureaucrat.

Please no more quick fixes to the institutions to make our problems go away. I will place this one along with the other genius ideas that haven’t/won’t solve a thing:
-term limits
-part-time legislatures
-unicameral ligature
-elect the Federal Reserve Chair.

Smitty 10:43 AM  

That's great Bob. I didn't say I had the end-all. You got an idea? Or just that you think mine is dumb?

Bob 10:50 AM  

I just think yours is dumb.

BTW ligature = legislature

Bob 11:25 AM  

Hey, I have a question. I have a Citibank M?C. Should I max it out in the hope that no one will be there to collect the debt?

B Mac 12:18 PM  

I'm going to suggest something, and I don't mean it to be insulting, but here it goes anyway...

None of us have the first damn clue what we're talking about.

That includes myself; I was well-educated at a univesity that prides itself on the business education it provides, and I took a half-dozen economics courses in my time there. I watch the news, and I read the papers. And this stuff flies over my head like a Steven Threet pass over the head of a wide receiver.

This is an issue of such complexity that I doubt .01% of the population can contribute substantively to the debate. There might be as few as a thousand people in the country that have a full grasp on what the hell is going on, let alone what needs to be done.

This is why I'm such a proponent of electing SMART PEOPLE, not just people with "good instincts" or "people who have a feel for the average person". From time to time, issues arise that are of such shocking breadth that We the People cannot tell them what to do, because we don't have the first damn clue.

I ABSOLUTELY HATE the idea that we just have to 'trust the people making the decisions'. It runs counter to eveything we've been taught about participatory democracy. But there is an extent to which the people we selected have to be the ones making the call.

There is still plenty for active people to talk about; looks like this week that will be stem cells. But when it comes to complex derivatives and the money multiplier effect of capitalization, I'm simply a passenger.

Smitty 1:09 PM  

I just think yours is dumb.

So no ideas. Just being an asshole.

I'm going to suggest something

Careful. Bob will shred it.

I ABSOLUTELY HATE the idea that we just have to 'trust the people making the decisions'.

In this case, we have placed our trust in them, and they have gotten us here. So much for that...

B Mac 1:15 PM  

In this case, we have placed our trust in them, and they have gotten us here.

I don't think government got us in this mess. Granted, government did stand idly by while the financial industry dug a hole, filled it with shit, and started digging a hole in the shit. But it was the private sector, by a wide margin, who bears teh blame for this one.

Smitty 1:35 PM  

I don't think government got us in this mess.

Not what I meant. Indeed, the financial sector got us in this mess. But the current solution, throw taxpayer money at it, is a decision made by "those we trust" and "those who are trusted by those whom we trust." And those who are trusted by those whom we trust are puppets of the very people who got us here in the first place: the financial sector folks.

It's a like a merry-go-round.

Bob 3:31 PM  

Careful. Bob will shred it.

Sissy.

But the current solution, throw taxpayer money at it..

I think people have a hard time grasping the fact that the government has very few tools to use in attempting to generate economic activity or fix a problem as big as this one. When there is nothing else they can do, they throw money at it.

Politicians will not admit they cannot fix an economic problem, but really for an elected official to have as much power over the economy as voters want them to have, we'd have to become a full communist state. I am guessing that won't go over well. In other words, the voters cannot be pleased.

There is one possible postive indicator of this situtation. When we last had a similar financial meltdown prior to the great deperession, nobody threw money at the problem. Where did that get us?

Smitty 3:40 PM  

Sissy.

You're a deadman.

nobody threw money at the problem. Where did that get us?

You're right. But what was done was that a lot of work was created by the Government. Rather than chucking money at banks that made shitty decisions, you had the CCC, road projects, etc. etc.

The moral of the story is...throwing money at jobs and people is OK by me, because they'll spend it. Throwing money at AIG, by comparison, is having exactly the same effect as not throwing money at banks had during the Great Depression.

B Mac 4:43 PM  

Throwing money at AIG, by comparison, is having exactly the same effect as not throwing money at banks had during the Great Depression.

It pisses me off beyond words, but I cannot escape the following logical proof:

~ Left to its own devices, AIG will fail.
~ If AIG fails, the recovery of the US economy will take an extra two years (maybe more).
~ The only entity large enough to save AIG (and with the motivation to do so) is the federal government.
~ The only tool the government has is its power as a deep pocket.

THEREFORE, to avoid a knock-out blow to the economy, the federal government has to infuse huge amounts of cash into a company who, in any fair universe, would be allowed to implode under the weight of its own dumb-ass-ness.

It isn't fair, but in this case the fair solution (i.e. leave AIG to the hounds) is counterproductive.

Sopor 6:04 PM  

You know what I think? B Mac is right! At least... I sure as hell know that I don't know shit about any of this!

So you know what I'm going to do? About all that I damn well can do... Sit back, have a beer*, and hope to god that somebody figures out some way to fix things, or at least keep them from getting worse.

I will say I don't like methods that involve giving money to the companies that are having trouble, I'm much more in favor of getting money in the hands of the people who are suffering (even though a fair number of them made stupid calls too, taking loans for way more money than they could afford etc...). But I don't have anywhere NEAR enough economic knowledge to be able to figure out how to hammer that in to a fisco-economic policy that might save our slowly sinking nation.

*not to hijack the thread... but I'm drinking my last of Smitty's Maple Porter! This is some tasty stuff, a bit sweeter than my normal preference, but sometimes I need a nice sweet beer, and it's really hittin' the spot right now!

Bob 7:50 PM  

Maple Porter? Dammit Id pay for one of those.

Rickey Henderson 11:30 PM  

We're quickly approaching a point where pretty much no one has an answer to what ails this nation. We just have to hope that the country remembers two things moving forward:

1) That this wasn't Obama's fault.

2) That not bailing out financial institutions was what caused the Great Depression.

Andy 7:30 AM  

I tend to lean towards Smitty on this one. Although I am a Democrat, it pains me that we throw money at the people who created this problem. In essence, we are saying "you took the risk and failed but no worries, we will bail you out." So was there really risk at all?

My ideas - If we have to bail out AIG and GM and others, then there should be serious strings attached. The money MUST go towards loans to regular people. That does not seem to be happening. The American people just mortgaged their future to give AIG and others serious $$$, and it is still almost impossible to get loans. Oh, and corporate compensation did not go down. What the heck is going on? I thought our Congressionals built in safeguards.

Other ideas - if we are gonna throw around so much money, why not put a piece of that into re-education. How many auto line workers would be re-educated as computer technicians or some other job that is needed. If we had a billion for that, then those people could go to school with a no-interest loan or loan that is forgiven in later years. THey could use the money to stay alive during school (rent, groceries, kids, etc). Then they could fill the jobs that are available, and evacuate the jobs that are going away anyway.

Maybe that is a crazy idea, but that was the point of the post...

Mike 8:01 AM  

The idea that this stuff is too complicated for "normal" people to understand is toxic and inexcusable. As is the idea that only more and more taxpayer money can save firms like AIG.

I find it interesting to read folks say "I don't understand this," followed one sentence later by a detailed plan as to what needs to be done. And it's unsurprising that the detailed plan is EXACTLY what the bankers, Wall St. insiders, and DC politicians recommend.

Sorry if it seems like I'm picking on BMac here. I'm not. But a (willfully) ignorant population is Step One in looting us blind.

If you "ABSOLUTELY HATE the idea that we just have to 'trust the people making the decisions'. It runs counter to eveything we've been taught about participatory democracy," then why not make a concerted effort to learn. And then make informed decisions?

Smitty 8:14 AM  

Maybe that is a crazy idea, but that was the point of the post...

Yes!! Finally, someone who gets it rather than "I's too dumbs for this kinda post, let's trust Congress."

How many auto line workers would be re-educated as computer technicians or some other job that is needed.

I agree with that idea. Here's one thing I see that will lend long-term to a continued increase in the jobless rate: many jobs are becoming obsolete.

A microcosm of that is the newspaper industry. Newspapers are laying off staff and closing facilities. In the near future, a "newspaper" may be 2 web guys, a handful of reporters and writers and a small editing staff. What of the print machine guys and the ink guys and the deliverers and the typesetter and so on? Their jobs will be obsolete, and there will be less demand for their skills. Maybe training folks in something new is the way to go.

That said, it doesn't all need to be on Uncle Sam's dime, but access to higher education should be way less costly than it is in order to give people a chance to gain new skills.

Pete 8:29 AM  

You know what I want? Spreadsheets.

Make this whole thing fully transparent. I want the friggin' Excel budget spreadsheets for the entire federal government. They've gotta be out there - every department has to break down and keep track of their budget somehow, right? And that filters up, right? So make a website, and post every single spreadsheet on it, and let We The People pour over it.

Same for the bailout funds. Give us the raw data on where everything is going. Don't pretty it up with graphs and crap, just give the numbers, and let the nerds of the world crunch it. That would immediately expose ALL the crap that is surely there, and I think would go a long way towards accountability.

Smitty 8:35 AM  

Along with Google, Michigan is working on that right now.

In fact, state by state, each state is working on a transparency system so that Publius can see exactly where the stimulus funds are going.

But spreadsheets for the Fed? Unreadable and expensive.

B Mac 8:47 AM  

Yes!! Finally, someone who gets it rather than "I's too dumbs for this kinda post, let's trust Congress.

then why not make a concerted effort to learn. And then make informed decisions?

Methinks I have been insulted. I challenge you both to a duel to regain my honor... eh, that sounds like too much work. Just give me back my honor when you have a chance.

I'm not saying we (or I) am too dumb to have opinions, or even intelligent input, regarding this whole mess. Quite the contrary; my point is that I consider the posters on this blog to be among the more informed and intelligent members of society.

But this problem is a gigantic pile of pick-up-sticks (or Jenga, if you prefer). Any move (save GM, save AIG, pass a stimulus, don't pass a stimulus) has such disparate and widespread ripple effects that we simply can't comprehend the big picture.

It is our duty as Americans to educate ourselves to the problem. But the point of my suggestion was that we have to understand that the administration has an eye on third-generation consequences we haven't even heard of.

Does that mean we have to simply defer to the government? God no... if history is any indication, the government will just find new ways to screw things up. However, I contend that (for you lawyer-types) the standard of review is for clear error; we have to give the decision-makers the benefit of the doubt with close questions.

It was just a suggestion for consideration. No need to bite.

Sopor 8:47 AM  

Pete.... you, of all people are asking for SPREASHEETS? Don't you get enough of that shit at work?

I like the re-education concept. That seems to be something even my "doh I'm stupid" head can wrap itself around. It gets money, and just as importantly: SKILLS, in the hands of people who need them, and hopefully can help prevent a large percentage of people from losing jobs? Yea, sounds good to me.

B Mac 8:58 AM  

Don't pretty it up with graphs and crap, just give the numbers, and let the nerds of the world crunch it.

Blessed be the computer nerds, for they shall inherit the earth.

I personally believe they should do both; make the raw data available (for transparency and independent evaluation) and find a way to break the data down in a way that average folks can digest. It doesn't seem like it should be that hard.

The one thing I worry about is that out of context, some things look wasteful, but are part of a bigger picture. I remember when the Lansing State Journal published a database of all state employee salaries. Had I not known some of the back story on some of these roles, I probably would have seen them as wasteful.

Moreover, they provide easy fodder for political opponents to say, "look at this, we're spending X dollars on a flood management specialist in the middle of the desert". They fail to mention, of course, that the particular area is known for flash floods.

Overall, though, I look forward to pouring through the data like the nerd that I am.

Joel 12:35 PM  

The reality is that we ARE too ignorant to understand this, and we DON'T really know how to fix it. While I agree that ignorance is no excuse, the reality is that ignorant is what we are. I am an attorney and I run a manufacturing business and I don't have the FIRST CLUE as to the how's and why's of all of this; couldn't BEGIN to offer real suggestions on how to fix it.

Multinational corporate lending institutions that deal with P&L's in the hundreds of billions operate on a scale that is way past us average joes. Sorry. That's just the way it is. If a leading economist from MIT and another from Stanford can't agree on the root cause, OR the best possible solution, we aren't going to come up with it here. We can "pretend" but that's all it is.

Me, I'll have to profess my ignorance, learn what I can, scrutinize where possible and hang on for dear life. But, again, the reality is that you're talking about something that, in eceonomics, is akin to nuclear physics. we might *wish* it was as simple as "let the bad banks go out of business" or "fire the people who got us here" but it ain't.

To me, all we can do is hope that the people in charge have identified who the smartest, most experienced economists are in the world, and are listening to them.

B Mac 1:16 PM  

And I'd like to thank Joel for articulating what I was trying to say.

Me trouble words sometimes.

steves 6:16 PM  

I htink Joel and Mike both raise good points. I agree that economics, especially macroeconomics can be very complex and difficult to understand, but I also don't think that means we throw up our hands and just give up (Joel, I know you aren't suggesting this).

Too often, most people make no effort to learn anything and that just sets them up to be manipulated by whomever. Some ingnorant conservative may just go along with what Rush Limbaugh is saying. Some ignorant liberal may think that Jon Stewart is the source of all economic wisdom.

The other problem is that economics is a social science and isn't like chemistry or physics. There are many competing theories and while some of them may be crap, many can be equally compelling. Smittly alluded to this in apost from a while ago, but a person's economic theory is also wrapped up in their own political ideology and what is "best" for them is not going to "best" for someone else.

1) That this wasn't Obama's fault.

At this point, it is fair to say this, but eventually this argument loses merit.

2) That not bailing out financial institutions was what caused the Great Depression.

I don't think this is entirely true. Hoover acted fairly quickly and pumped money, in the form of loans, projects and subsidies, into the economy. It may have been too late, but I believe that Hoover is unfairly blamed for the Depression. I should also note that the Depression encompassed two periods of economic down turn, one coming after things had improved and FDR had passed most of the New Deal. That money failed to prevent the second downturn.

B Mac 7:45 PM  

That money failed to prevent the second downturn.

Some economists argue that the money worked, and that the subsequent downturn was the result of FDR's premature efforts to balance the budget in '36 and '37. But again, I don't know this stuff well enough to know for sure.

There was a great line on The West Wing a few years ago that said something along the lines that "economists were put on the this earth to make weathermen look good."

Mike 5:32 AM  

Make this whole thing fully transparent. I want the friggin' Excel budget spreadsheets for the entire federal government. They've gotta be out there - every department has to break down and keep track of their budget somehow, right? And that filters up, right? So make a website, and post every single spreadsheet on it, and let We The People pour over it.

Same for the bailout funds. Give us the raw data on where everything is going. Don't pretty it up with graphs and crap, just give the numbers, and let the nerds of the world crunch it. That would immediately expose ALL the crap that is surely there, and I think would go a long way towards accountability.


Exactly, and that's a cutting edge issue right now. Bloomberg News has sued the Federal Reserve undre the Freedom of Information Act to reveal the names and amounts of the recipients of bailout money. And one of the Fed's defenses is the fact that although the Board of Governors is "public," the 12 Member banks (including the NY Fed, which fed most of the money to AIG, Citi, etc) is private, and therefore is not compelled under federal law to disclose.

This is the sort of thing that the average American needs to understand. It's not "academic," it's not arcane, and it's not even that complicated. Yet 99.99% of American remain in glorious, willful ignorance, instead saying, "oh jeez, this ee-con-omics stuff is too damn hard to understand."

People need to wake up and start understanding where their trillions of dollars are going.

But the point of my suggestion was that we have to understand that the administration has an eye on third-generation consequences we haven't even heard of.

Does that mean we have to simply defer to the government? God no... if history is any indication, the government will just find new ways to screw things up. However, I contend that (for you lawyer-types) the standard of review is for clear error; we have to give the decision-makers the benefit of the doubt with close questions.


I don't understand this. First of all, you're making a unfounded assumption that those in power have their eyes on the "third generation consequences" any more (or any more competently) than you or I do. Why do you assume this?

And, assuming they have their eyes on such a thing, why do you assume it's for the public good, as opposed to helping out their friends, constituents, lobbyists, etc.

I don't know why we always assumed the worst, the most cynical, when it came to Bushco's actions in Iraq, yet we give the new administration miles of slack. Even though in this cae, it's merely continuing the economic policies begun under the last Administration.

I don't have the FIRST CLUE as to the how's and why's of all of this; couldn't BEGIN to offer real suggestions on how to fix it.

Today's as good a day as any to start trying to get that first clue.

Multinational corporate lending institutions that deal with P&L's in the hundreds of billions operate on a scale that is way past us average joes. Sorry. That's just the way it is. If a leading economist from MIT and another from Stanford can't agree on the root cause, OR the best possible solution, we aren't going to come up with it here. We can "pretend" but that's all it is.

Tons of unfounded assumptions here. The disagreements of leading economists have more to do with their philosophies, policical leanings, and affiliations. Economics, unlike physics is NOT a science. Like psychology, sociology, public policy, etc it's a quasi-science. At its root it studies and attempts to understand human behavior. All the charts and formulae (except at the very core microecon level) are bullshit. Deliberately arcane to create a academic elite that outsiders can't penetrate.

As a lawyer I can declare without qualification that arcanalia doesn't create efficiency or even lead to better analysis. It just creates the requirement that folks pay for 3 years of extra schooling so they can learn the language and the self-regulated rules.

Me, I'll have to profess my ignorance, learn what I can, scrutinize where possible and hang on for dear life. But, again, the reality is that you're talking about something that, in eceonomics, is akin to nuclear physics. we might *wish* it was as simple as "let the bad banks go out of business" or "fire the people who got us here" but it ain't.

See above.

To me, all we can do is hope that the people in charge have identified who the smartest, most experienced economists are in the world, and are listening to them.

Yet we know that many, if not most, of the smartest are outside the walls of power here. You'd rather have Larry Summers and Tim Geithner in charge of economic policy or Roubini? I'll take the latter.

Joel 9:03 AM  

AHHH! So the conventional wisdom that economics at its highest level is complicated is a hoax! And here I thought these Harvard egg heads on NPR were knew their stuff. pft.

Lemme go find my daughter's latest issue of "Highlights" ...I think they broke down the concepts of ponzi schemes, hedge funds and sub prime mortgage lending (packaged into securities and sold across global economies) in there... just past the "Games and Giggles" section.

B Mac 9:33 AM  

We aren't saying this stuff is unknowable. It isn't impossible to grasp. People do it.

But the people who really understand this stuff are the people who (a) are educated in the field, (b) have years of experience looking at the stuff, (c) spend their every working minute looking at the stuff, and (d) are really, really, really smart.

That doesn't mean that knowledge is limited to the government. Nouriel Roubini is one of those guys (in fact, he's one of the best of those guys). But Larry Summers is one of those guys, as is Tim Geitner (who had Roubini as an advisor in the 90's).

In my life, I have met one person who may possibly meet that qualification. He was an economics professor at Michigan, and he made me feel stupid through the sheer power of his smartness.

I agree that this isn't like the law. I could train anyone with a high-school education the difference between murder and manslaughter. But there's a reason they haven't come out with "Law and Order; Economic Stimulus Edition". Not only is it mind-numbing, but it isn't the kind of thing that you can grab the McNuggets of infomation and get by.

steves 12:19 PM  

Joel, I don't think he is saying that. While I agree that economics isn't the easiest thing, it also isn't the hardest thing. Most people don't go to medical school, but that doesn't stop them from educating themselves on medical topics. When I worked as a family therapist, I had dozens of people come in with a variety of information they pulled of the internet.

The same holds true for other fields. The reality is that most people aren't interested in economics and are content to let others do the thinking for them. This doesn't mean we ignore the experts, but means we have some obligation to be informed participants and at least understand the basics.

Joel 2:22 PM  

I was being glib, sorry.

Joel 2:53 PM  

All I'm saying is that we "average Joe's" can read the interenet and listen to NPR all we want, we're only beginning to scratch the surface of the complexities at work. We can pontificate on a blog to our heart's content regarding this "mess" and we'll still never truly grasp the depth of the problem, how it came about or how to solve it.

Everything from the sciences to the "pseudo-sciences" to, I dunno, religeous idealism, is as simple or as complicated as the particular circumstances dictate. Quantum mechanics, as a concept, isn't tough to "understand," but when you start getting into Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, your brain simply begins to melt. Same here. This is way beyond "econ 101", way beyond P&L's and way beyond cash vs. accrual accounting methods.

A handful of people on a blog could banter for a year about the why's and what-for's and still never get through 10% of what one would really need to know in order to create a truly "meaningful" discourse (meaningful from the standpoint that we would actually develop solutions that the President hasn't already been briefed on).

Somewhere, the chief economist at Solomon Brothers is shaking his head and laughing at the people who call up Diane Rehm and complain that if they ran their corner deli like AIG runs it's investment arm, they'd have been out of business years ago. Sorry but, "ain't the same ballpark, ain't the same league, ain't even the same fuckin' sport."

Mr Furious 3:06 PM  

I read a fantastic post today at this blog (via Mike), that I cannot seem to locate anywhere in my history. So this will have to do for the moment...

Major Banks Will Be Nationalized Eventually: Wall Street's Dirty Little Secret
The dirty little secret that Wall Street does not wish you to understand is that the banking model which the US has had for the past twelve years was unsustainable, it is over and done, and banks must go bank to being banks, and not hedge funds.

Why doesn't the Street wish you to realize this? First and foremost, the days of big bonuses and big earnings are over. Banks will increasingly become, once again, institutions to support savings and lending, with insured depositors accounts as a major source of capital.

The leveraged days and market speculation for the big money center banks is over.

We no longer need big salaries to retain traders in the banks because they won't be doing much trading for their own accounts anymore. That will be left to the brokerages.

They won't be writing insurance, they won't be taking huge short positions in commodities, and they won't be to big to fail, at least not to this degree with single institutions threatening national solvency.

We need to strike a model of what wish to have as a national financial system, and begging to invest towards that, and not try to reflate a bubble that ought never to have existed in the first place.

Nationalization does not mean the banks will be run by the government. It means that they will be taken into receivership, broken up, and made once more into banks. Those which are not nationalized must be constrained by a new "Glass-Steagall" law limiting their ability to imperil the national economy for their own personal gambling interests.

That is the point that is being lost in this opaque analysis and muddled discussion. The Big Money Center Banks will be nationalized one way or the other. The only real variable is how much money they can take out of the system before it happens.


I don't think I've disagreed with a thing I read over there today.

Mr Furious 3:07 PM  

As far as my contribution to ATK's "Career Day", obviously I'm going to be a professional plagiarist.

B Mac 3:13 PM  

Banks will be nationalized one way or the other. The only real variable is how much money they can take out of the system before it happens

I think the most interesting discussion on the topic I've heard is how we (a) stay true to capitalist principles, and (b) prevent this crap from happening again.

AIG (and others) have become "too big to fail"; that is, they got so big and multi-tentacled (sp?) that their failure would drag an unacceptable chunk of the economy with it. That's a tough line to draw.

Mike 6:31 AM  

All I'm saying is that we "average Joe's" can read the interenet and listen to NPR all we want, we're only beginning to scratch the surface of the complexities at work. We can pontificate on a blog to our heart's content regarding this "mess" and we'll still never truly grasp the depth of the problem, how it came about or how to solve it.

Joel, obviously I have no way to convince you, but I couldn't possibly disagree more. All the charts and tables and formulae have NOTHING to do with the basics of macroeconomics. It's just academicized gobbledeegook to keep (i) professors employed, (ii) students awed, and (iii) the population aw shucksed.

I never took an econ class in my life (I was a LIT major). I admit I can't derive a microeconomic formula, and I'm hardly able to communicate what I know at a high level of sophistication. But reading and self-learning has allowed me to understand the fundamentals of central banking, monetarism, US lending policy and a few other gross level concepts.

And the upshot is simple and straight forward: I may not understand everything but I can see that those who truly "know" are bullshitting us. Using our ignorance and fear of the arcane/academic to loot us blind.

Like Steve said, learning some fundamental law or medicine doesn't mean you can try a case or perform surgery, but it certainly helps you identify and avoid the quacks and shysters who are more than willing to take your money for services barely, poorly, or unnecessarily rendered.

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