Politics

There is no "Free Market" Housing Solution

iStock_000003060550XSmall.jpg

The common line used by advocates of housing affordability has been that the solution lies in “free markets”. Yet this "free market" solution does not address the fundamental problem which is really a political one.

This true fundamental problem is particularly evident here in Britain, the leader in house price inflation and housing financial bubbles since the 1970s. In their recent report Global capital markets, the McKinsey Global Institute has confirmed what has been shown in recent Demographia surveys.  read more »

Is Obama Separating from His Scandinavian Muse?

obama-peaceprize.png

Barack Obama may be our first African-American president, but he’s first got to stop finding his muse in Scandinavia. With his speech for the Nobel, perhaps he’s showing some sign of losing his northern obsession.

On the campaign trail, Obama showed a poet’s sensitivity about both America’s exceptionalism and our desire to improve our country. His mantra about having “a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas” resonated deeply with tens of millions of Americans.  read more »

Capping Emissions, Trading On The Future

iStock_000006493776XSmall.jpg

Whatever the results of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, one thing is for sure: Draconian reductions on carbon emissions will be tacitly accepted by the most developed economies and sloughed off by many developing ones. In essence, emerging economies get to cut their "carbon" intensity--a natural product of their economic evolution--while we get to cut our throats.

The logic behind this prediction goes something like this. Since the West created the industrial revolution and the greenhouse gases that supposedly caused this "crisis," it's our obligation to take much of the burden for cleaning them up.  read more »

The European Model Gets A Makeover

Europe - NASA view iStock_000005884810XSmall.jpg

Does the United States finally have its first European President in Barack Obama? Does he truly want to Europeanise the American health system and impose European-style socialism on the US? RealClearPolitics.com assures us that ‘his policies on government spending, taxation, health care and carbon emissions would all tend to bring America in line with European norms.’

It is a powerful message – or it would be were the US not already in line with European norms in nearly every way that matters. In terms of social welfare expenditure, working hours, socialized health and even military spending, the US slips snugly in place among its European counterparts.  read more »

For Millennials, It’s the Economy Stupid

iStock_000009501909XSmall.jpg

This month’s off year elections sent one message to Washington that has been heard loud and clear. Voters expect Congress to focus on the economy, especially employment, and take decisive and affirmative steps to deal with both the causes and ravages of the greatest economic downturn in the U.S. since the Great Depression. As the Obama administration considers a variety of new proposals to help bring down the unemployment rate, one key constituency is raising its voice and asking for a return on the investment it made in his presidency.

Members of the Millennial generation, born between 1982-2003, who were eligible to vote in 2008 went for Barack Obama over John McCain by a 2:1 margin and made up over 80% of the President’s winning margin.  read more »

Obama in China: Walking the Great Mall

China Turns 60.jpg

Ever since Richard Nixon visited China in winter 1972—an event timed to play into that year’s presidential elections—American presidents have made the pilgrimage to the modern version of the Forbidden City.

Landing in Shanghai on Sunday evening, President Obama has two days of meetings with the Chinese leadership, not to mention a town hall event with Chinese students (as if they were eligible to vote in a New Hampshire primary).

As a stage-set for photo opportunities, China is hard to beat. American presidents can walk the Great Wall, toast a nation in the Great Hall of the People, tower over diminutive Chinese leaders dressed in gray Mao suits, and make sweeping statements about new world orders.  read more »

Hyper-Partisans on the Green Politics Battlefield

US Flag - tattered iStock_000005892132XSmall.jpg

America is more polarized today than at any time since Reconstruction. A major quantitative analysis by social scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal found today to be the most polarized period in 130 years.

If you want to understand how it is that the debate over — for example — global warming policies became so shrill, consider the recent pattern of behavior by the country's second-most read climate blogger, Joe Romm.  read more »

Honest Services From Bankers? Increasingly Not Likely

iStock_000003435126XSmall.jpg

Once you understand what financial services are, you’ll quickly come to realize that American consumers are not getting the honest services that they have come to expect from banks. A bank is a business. They offer financial services for profit. Their primary function is to keep money for individual people or companies and to make loans. Banks – and all the Wall Street firms are banks now – play an important role in the virtuous circle of savings and investment. When households have excess earnings – more money than they need for their expenses – they can make savings deposits at banks. Banks channel savings from households to entrepreneurs and businesses in the form of loans. Entrepreneurs can use the loans to create new businesses which will employee more labor, thus increasing the earnings that households have available to more savings deposits – which brings the process fully around the virtuous circle.  read more »

Reducing Carbon Should Not Distort Regional Economies

iStock_000004780848XSmall.jpg

A pending bill in Congress to reduce carbon emissions via a “cap and trade” regime would have significant distorting effects on America's regional economies. This is because the cost of compliance varies widely from region to region and metro to metro. This is all the more important since such legislation may do very little to reduce overall carbon emission according to two of the EPA's own San Francisco lawyers.  read more »

Obama Still Can Save His Presidency

obama-haircut.png

A good friend of mine, a Democratic mayor here in California, describes the Obama administration as "Moveon.org run by the Chicago machine." This combination may have been good enough to beat John McCain in 2008, but it is proving a damned poor way to run a country or build a strong, effective political majority. And while the president's charismatic talent – and the lack of such among his opposition – may keep him in office, it will be largely as a kind of permanent lame duck unable to make any of the transformative changes he promised as a candidate.  read more »