US muni bond tax exemption is accident of history

July 1, 2011

U.S. lawmakers don't like subsidizing municipal project financing. Last year they ended the Build America Bonds program that did just that. Yet the continuing federal tax break on state and local debt is a subsidy by another name.

Housing reform sinks to Fannie/Freddie mash-up low

July 7, 2011

For the clearest sign yet that U.S. housing reform is floundering, just take a look at the latest proposal. It only goes to show just how weak the political will is for a real fix.

U.S. jobs rout should give fiscal hawks pause

July 8, 2011

The latest U.S. jobs report should give fiscal hawks pause. With economists expecting employment to rise by a modest 100,000 in June, the piddling increase of 18,000 proved a bitter blow for a country amid the throes of an austerity debate.

U.S. home finance in limbo a year after Dodd-Frank

July 18, 2011

The consequences of lax mortgage lending were central to the 2008 financial crisis that Dodd-Frank was intended to make unrepeatable. But rather than tackle the huge and highly political issue of Fannie, Freddie and the FHA, the law is narrowly focused on one part of the market.

Plunging markets reflect ugly political paralysis

August 4, 2011

Thursday's market plunge reflects, as much as anything, an ugly political paralysis.

Timing of S&P U.S. downgrade couldn’t be better

August 7, 2011

The Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States couldn't have come at a much better time.

Markets could force Fed to empty the chamber

August 10, 2011

Markets could force the Federal Reserve to use up the rest of its arsenal. Although investors found comfort in the central bank's stated "range of policy tools" on Tuesday, by Wednesday morning they had a change of heart. The slide could press Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to fire sooner rather than later to keep recession at bay. Trouble is, he's packing a BB gun not a bazooka.

Financial lifeboats starting to get crowded

August 12, 2011

The financial lifeboats are starting to get crowded. Investors in droves have sought safety in Uncle Sam's debt, and even bonds backed by American homes. But on Thursday, vessels of refuge showed how quickly they can be rocked when too many investors pile in.

Texas governor unlikely small government champion

August 19, 2011

Rick Perry, the latest U.S. presidential hopeful, has said he wants to make the federal government "inconsequential". Yet as Texas governor he has presided over the creation of more government jobs per head of population than Washington.

More U.S. mortgage help isn’t needed

August 31, 2011

There's talk of yet more government help for careworn American mortgage borrowers. Washington has already made Herculean efforts. But there's no magic bullet and returns are diminishing.