Financial Crisis

Scenario One: A Pessimistic Forecast for the United States

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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 »

Deconstruction: The Fate of America? - The Changing Landscape of America

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America is at a crossroads. Its current path is unsustainable. The deficit for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009 was $1.42 trillion. The National Debt is $12.5 trillion with the debt ceiling just raised to $14.9 trillion. The National Debt has increased $4 billion per day since September 28, 2007. The Obama Administration projects trillion dollar deficits for years to come. It has bailed out GM and Chysler, the banks “too big to fail” , and state governments that cannot manage their budgets.  read more »

Jerry Brown: Machiavelli Or Torquemada?

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For more than one-third of a century Jerry Brown has proved one of the most interesting and original figures in American politics--and the 71-year-old former wunderkind might be back in office in 2010. If he indeed wins California's gubernatorial election, the results could range from somewhat positive to positively disastrous.  read more »

The Failed State of California - The Changing Landscape of America

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The Golden State is not so golden anymore. California is broke. With a $20 billion dollar deficit and tax revenues down 27% from last year, Governor Schwarzenegger looks to Washington D.C. for a bail-out to rescue the state from financial ruin. Like the executive passing a beggar on a street corner, Washington looks the other way. Unemployment is statistically 12.3%, but functionally, it runs closer to 20% of the work force. Nowhere is unemployment more tragic than in the Central Valley, the fruit and vegetable producer of the world.  read more »

Why Millennials are Economic Liberals and What to Do About It

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The Obama administration celebrated the anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or economic stimulus, by pointing out the gradual recovery of the United States economy has resulted in “saving or creating two million jobs.” But young Americans continue to bear the brunt of what is still America’s worst recession since the Great Depression.  read more »

Olympic Games: Greece's Gold Medal For Debt

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Although I cannot imagine that it will have much appeal in the ratings beyond C-Span 2, a terrific new reality program, Euro Bomb, could be produced around the survival of the Greek economy.

The founder of both the ancient and modern Olympic games is in the midst of a debt crisis that threatens not just to send a few bondholders off the island, but has the potential to blow up the European Union’s currency zone.  read more »

Ethics, Banking And The Coin of the Realm

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Many years ago, I wrote for a New York investment bank whose name has been semi-obscured by the epidemic of shotgun marriages on Wall Street in the intervening decades. Thus, the news that Goldman Sachs enabled the miserable financial accounting habits of Greece did not surprise me, nor, I feel sure, anyone who ever worked for one of the banks. As many characters on “The Wire” put it over five years of exquisite television, “All in the game, yo.” Or, in the words of a previous era’s television icon — JR Ewing, Texas oilman on “Dallas” — “Once you give up your ethics, the rest is a piece of cake.”  read more »

Blame Their Parents, Not Us

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We appreciate Pete Peterson’s attention to our work, but in responding to his complaint that we are denigrating Generation X and underrating its civic participation, we should begin at the beginning, define our terms, and give credit where credit is due. In writing our book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics, we borrowed heavily from the thinking of and acknowledged our intellectual debt to Neil Howe and the late William Strauss, the founders of generational theory.  read more »

Memo To Obama: Banks Are Beautiful

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In his search for what Theodore Roosevelt called “a good, safe menace,” President Barack Obama has settled on the nation’s largest commercial banks, which as late as last year’s bailouts were still considered the best hope for economic salvation.

At first Obama was content to rail about the filthy lucre of banker bonuses. Then he got the idea of maybe hitting the bonus babies with special taxes. But the reason that the Secretary of the Treasury is often the former chairman of Goldman Sachs is because the bank is one of the instruments that keeps the government afloat.  read more »

The Fate of Detroit – Revisited Green Shoots? The Changing Landscape of America

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During the first ten days of October 2008, the Dow Jones dropped 2,399.47 points, losing 22.11% of its value and trillions of investor equity. The Federal Government pushed a $700 billion bail-out through Congress to rescue the beleaguered financial institutions. The collapse of the financial system in the fall of 2008 was likened to an earthquake. In reality, what happened was more like a shift of tectonic plates.  read more »