Financial Crisis

Brown’s California Budget Proposals: a Big Step in the Right Direction

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I admit it. I had low expectations for Jerry Brown’s third term as governor. After seeing his budget proposal, I’m ready to reconsider my expectations. I think it is a great effort, and it deserves the support of all of us tired of seeing our state reduced to laughing stock.  read more »

The Next Urban Challenge — And Opportunity

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In the next two years, America’s large cities will face the greatest existential crisis in a generation. Municipal bonds are in the tank, having just suffered the worst quarterly performance in more than 16 years, a sign of flagging interest in urban debt.  read more »

Coalition of the Unwilling

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This week the UK government announced an ”end to anti-car policies” reversing the guidance to local authorities to dissuade citizens from using their cars in favour of public transport. Charges for parking will be reined in, they promise.

It should be good news. The comically-named ”traffic calming” schemes put in place by the outgoing government were deeply unpopular. Still, we are getting used to taking our announcements from the new coalition government with a pinch of salt.  read more »

2011: Jobs Vs The Deficit

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The roadmaps showing the way out of our 1.4 trillion dollar federal deficit almost always begin at the same starting points. During 2010, it became taken-for-granted that today's record-setting red ink is a result of unrestrained government spending — especially stimulus spending. And the idea that the economic upturn in jobs and growth will begin with deficit reduction has become widely perceived as 'common sense'.  read more »

General Motors' IPO: Deal Or No Deal?

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Those who are looking for a feel-good stimulus story, notably members of the Obama administration, cite the recent initial public offering (IPO) in which the federal government sold off 28 percent of its General Motors shares for about $15 billion.  read more »

The Financial Crisis Continues to be an Inside Job

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Over the weekend I saw the documentary movie Inside Job with a friend who is not a financial markets expert. After the show, I told her I was relieved to see that the movie covered the majority of the causes of the collapse of the financial markets in 2008. Part of my relief was from thinking that everything would be better now that “everyone” knows the facts. Then my friend pointed out that there were only six people in the audience – obviously “everyone” wasn’t seeing this movie!  read more »

California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?

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In the future, historians may likely mark the 2010 midterm elections as the end of the California era and the beginning of the Texas one. In one stunning stroke, amid a national conservative tide, California voters essentially ratified a political and regulatory regime that has left much of the state unemployed and many others looking for the exits.  read more »

The State Government Deconstructors

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The results of the mid-term election of 2010 will be written over the next two years. Can the Republicans really make good on their promise of fiscal discipline? A glimpse of our future federal budget may be seen in the fiscal actions (and inaction) of America’s governors. Most states are struggling to balance budgets in troubled economic times with projected shortfalls nationwide of more than $100 billion for Fiscal Year 2012. Federal bail-outs are no longer an option. The hard choices are tax increases, reduction of services or innovative fiscal solutions like deconstruction.  read more »

The Post Election Deconstructors

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Mid-term Election Accelerates Federal Deconstruction

The mid-term election of 2010 has already been labeled a political earthquake. It was more like a shift of tectonic plates than a mere earthquake, and its results may be felt for decades. The landmark election signaled the beginning of deconstruction at the federal level in the United States. The Young Guns of the Republican Party (Representatives McCarthy, Cantor and Ryan) will lead a freshman class of 65 new members of Congress on a budget crusade to rein in government spending. Their first act will be to return federal spending to 2008 levels. There will be many acts to follow. These Congressmen will follow the lead of the “Deconstructors” who began deconstruction at the state level earlier this year.  read more »

Cruising Into Student Debt

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I once calculated that, for the cost of four years of education at a private American university, a student could take 105 cruises around the world. For the comparison, I chose only cruises that cost about $1,900, as who wants to go through college stuck with an inside cabin? As I imagine it, Cruise College (school motto: “Go Overboard on Learning”) even has some similarities to the landlocked undergraduate experience.
For all I know it may exist, given that higher education is one of the few growth sectors in the U.S. economy.

Despite the decline of American business, private colleges, state universities, night schools, and for-profit continuing education have boomed.

Harvard College will get about 30,000 applications for the 1,700 places in next year’s freshman class. At the same time, there's a strong demand for education at community  read more »