Financial Crisis

California is Too Big To Fail; Therefore, It Will Fail

california-capital-1.jpg

Back in December I wrote a piece where I stated that California was likely to default on its obligations. Let’s say the state’s leaders were less than pleased. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office asserted that I knew “nothing about California bonds, or the risk the State will default on its payments.” My assessment, they asserted, “is nothing more than irresponsible fear-mongering with no basis in reality, only roots in ignorance. Since it issued its first bond, California has never, not once, defaulted on a bond payment.”  read more »

How Tough Times May Lead to Better Architecture

usonian.jpg

By Richard Reep

While Ben Bernanke fantasizes about the Recovery, most people in the building industry – especially in overbuilt Florida – will correct this gross error immediately and emphatically. The recession may be over for the Fed Chairman, but unemployment in the design and construction professions is probably in the 25-30% range, matching that of the Great Depression.

Even so, tiny glimmers of light shine in what many design professionals call the “microeconomy” of building – small commercial renovations, house additions, tenant improvements, and other projects normally too small to even be counted.  read more »

Guns, Guts, And Geithner

365px-Timothy_Geithner_speaking_at_the_United_States_Treasury.jpg

Calls for more bank regulators remind me of a regulatory go-round with an erratic European bank chairman to whom I once reported. Almost eighty years old, with a failing memory and a fondness for mid-day Martinis, he once interrupted a luncheon to call his wife and ask that she send his revolver over to the bank.

At one time in his life he might have had a license to carry a firearm, but the permit had long expired. He wanted the great equalizer on this particular afternoon because the television was full of possible terror threats against financial interests, and he figured, after his second highball, that outside agitators  read more »

Financial Reform or Con Game?

bull.jpg

The news that Goldman Sachs is facing civil fraud charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission came just days before a Washington Examiner story reported that Goldman Sachs, in the company’s annual letter to shareholders, reassured investors that the financial regulatory reform being voted on this week in Congress will “help Goldman’s bottom line.” Yikes!!

Since the autumn of 2008, all things concerning financial regulation have been moving very rapidly. I often find it impossible to stay in front of it. The legislation is barely made public before it is changed–they even change bills in the days after they are passed. This makes it really hard for the ordinary citizen or even an informed researcher to clearly see where there bill is finally.  read more »

The Great Deconstruction - First in a New Series

globe-puzzle-deconstruct.jpg

History imparts labels on moments of great significance; The Civil War, The Great Depression, World War II. We are entering such an epoch. The coming transformation of America and the world may be known as The Great Deconstruction. Credit restrictions will force spending cuts and a re-prioritization of interests. Our world will be dramatically changed. There will be winners and losers. This series will explore the winners and losers of The Great Deconstruction.

***

The phrase, The Great Depression, was coined by British economist Lionel Robbins in a 1934 book of the same name.  read more »

Financial Crisis: Too Late to Change?

fdic-mickeymouse.jpg

A travelling salesman is driving down a country road when he runs over a cat. Seeing a farmhouse nearby, he approaches to confess this unfortunate situation to the pet’s owner. When a woman answers the door, he says, “I’m sorry, but I think I just ran over your cat.” She asks him, “Well, what did it look like?” “Oh, m’am,” he replies, “I completely ran over it, so it was very awful, just a smear on the road…” “Oh, no,” she interrupts, “I mean, what did it look like before you ran over it.”  read more »

A Big Company Recovery?

smallbusiness.jpg

After the release of the 2009 fourth-quarter GDP estimate, some forecasters are now predicting a rapid recovery in 2010. Certainly, the fourth-quarter growth rate was impressive, particularly following the modest pickup reflected in the third-quarter results and the terrible results of the previous several quarters. Implicitly, these optimistic forecasts are based on the assumption that the United States economy has been fundamentally unchanged by the recession.  read more »

The Myth of the Strong Center

atlanta-condos.jpg

At the height of the foreclosure crisis the problems experienced by some so-called “sprawl” markets, like Phoenix and San-Bernardino-Riverside, led some observers to see the largest price declines as largely confined to outer ring suburbs. Some analysts who had long been predicting (even hoping for) the demise of the suburbs skipped right over analysis to concoct theories not supported by the data. The mythology was further enhanced by the notion – never proved – that high gas prices were forcing home buyers closer to the urban core.  read more »

Scenario Two: An Optimistic view of the United States future

optimism.jpg

This is the second in a two part series exploring a pessimistic and an optimistic future for the United States. Part One appeared yesterday.

A positive assessment of US prospects rests on at least seven propositions. First, the current crisis is not inherently more threatening than many others, most notably the Civil War, the Great Depression, and two World Wars. Quality leadership, building on the resilient political and economic institutions of the country, will prove sufficient to bring about needed sacrifices and transformations. We have seen this many times in the past from the Progressive Era to the New Deal, the Second World War and the winning of the Cold War, which was a uniquely bipartisan triumph.  read more »

Scenario One: A Pessimistic Forecast for the United States

trainwreck.jpg

This is the first in a two part series exploring a pessimistic and an optimistic future for the United States. Part Two will appear tomorrow.

I’m an old (76) 1950s type liberal, and have lived to see the election on the nation’s first mixed-race president, as well as some remarkable social change in the general status of women and ethnic minorities. The United States has a remarkable heritage of entrepreneurship and resilience in its democratic institutions. Yet there are cogent reasons to be fearful and pessimistic about our capacity to maintain our preeminence, at least in the medium run (10-15 years).  read more »