John Williams, chief of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, happens to have the same name as the guy who wrote the music for the Star Wars films. Judging from his speeches of late, the Fed’s own Williams is something of a sci-fan himself. Thursday in Salt Lake City he borrowed from the iconic greeting of Star Trek’s Spock with a talk titled “The Economic Outlook: Live long and Prosper.” Earlier this month he riffed on Star Wars, with a speech subtitled “May the (economic) force be with you.” In July, he spoke about “The recovery’s final frontier” (see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098382/). So it is quite logical that the enterprising captain of the Fed’s farthest-flung Western outpost would be keen on exploring strange new worlds. And here I don’t just mean voyaging to Los Angeles, where he was on Monday, or to Spokane, Wash., where he treks next week. Williams, like most Fed officials, believes that after nearly seven years of extraordinarily easy monetary policy, the U.S. economy is finally ready to leave near-zero interest rates behind. On Thursday, Williams repeated his view that the Fed should raise interest rates this year. Not all U.S. central bankers agree – one can almost hear Minneapolis Fed’s Kocherlakota or Chicago Fed’s Evans echoing Princess Leia’s warning, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Certainly, if the Fed can successfully raise rates without quickly needing to cut them again, it will have pulled off what several other global central banks – the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, Sweden’s Riksbank -- have tried to do, but failed. Raising rates this year, as Williams hopes and expects to, would indeed be a bold move; and if the first hike is followed by others, he would indeed be taking the Fed where no other central bank has gone before.
from Alison Frankel:
Once again, we are reminded that defendants underestimate the creativity of the class action bar at their own peril.
from The Great Debate:
In his State of the Union address last month, President Barack Obama urged cities and states to bypass Congress and enact their own minimum wage increases. "You don't have to wait for Congress,” he stated.
from Photographers' Blog:
WARNING: SOME IMAGES CONTAIN NUDITY
San Francisco, California
By Beck Diefenbach
Photographing the nude body in America presents many challenges. So when Reuters editor Mike Fiala asked me to shoot the latest chapter in the public nudity ban in San Francisco, I knew I would have a lot of factors to consider.
A group opposed to male circumcision said they have collected more than enough signatures to qualify a proposal to ban the practice in San Francisco as a ballot measure for November elections.
from Reuters Investigates:
By Ben Berkowitz
The March 11 Great Tohoku Earthquake in Japan was a tragic disaster of historic proportions -- but from a purely financial standpoint it pales in comparison. (For a special report on insurers, click here.)
from Environment Forum:
Solar energy is not a new technology, yet the adoption rate in the United States continues to crawl along. Just one percent of homes have made the switch to solar power and the reason is primarily a lack of understanding of how it all works, says Dave Llorens, founder and CEO of One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a California solar retrofit company that groups together neighbourhoods to cut costs for consumers.
If you read often enough about the supposed death of the newspaper business, you would think that the nation's newsrooms are increasingly depopulated, barren places, with darkened offices and empty cubicles... the occasional tumbleweed blowing past. (Actually, large stretches of Tribune Co's New York bureau look just like that, as I saw earlier this year).