Noam Scheiber has a 6,000-word profile of Larry Summers in the New Republic which as good an introduction as any to the man and his temperament. If there’s a theme running through it, it’s one of Summers being right, but lacking the political ability to implement his vision.
Hendrik Hertzberg gets stuck in to the fiscal-policy debate this week, with a proposal to essentially abolish payroll taxes and replace them with various sorts of carbon and consumption taxes. It’s not a bad idea: payroll taxes are horribly regressive, and, as Hertzberg notes, they actually exceed income taxes for three quarters of the US population.
It’s good that AIG has released a list of its counterparties. But if it really believes in "the importance of upholding a high degree of transparency with respect to the use of public funds", this is a very odd way of releasing the information.
Straight on the heels of Clay Shirky’s great essay on the future of newspapers, Steven Johnson comes along with an equally great one on the future of news, and why it makes sense to be hopeful and optimistic. For the vast majority of things we’re interested in, the breadth and depth and speed of the news we’re getting now constitutes a vast improvement on what was available only a few years ago — and there’s no indication that trend is in any way reversing. So yes, many newspapers might well be doomed. But that’s only a small part of a much bigger — and much happier — story.
This chart comes from A Credit Trader, who has a long and very useful blog entry on the subject of US sovereign CDS. He basically gives the simple answer to my question of "who on earth is buying protection at these levels": it’s people who think that the spread is going to widen out. So far, people making that trade have made a lot of money, so there’s a good chance that the simple answer is here the right one.