The Great Debate

from Ian Bremmer:

America can’t afford complacency on China

August 17, 2011

In China, as we learned last month, there are Apple Stores and then there are “Apple Stores.” Both sell Apple computers, iPads, cable adaptors, etc. But while Apple’s official beachhead store in Shanghai Pudong attracts mega-sized crowds, about 900 miles west of Shanghai in the city of Chongqing, some entrepreneurial types brazenly knocked off the Apple store concept. Enter one of these stores and you’d find the familiar t-shirt clad friendly geek, the clean (though not as minimalist) Apple aesthetic, and a full stock of real-deal Apple computers. Employees in the store actually believed they were working for Apple and Steve Jobs until press accounts of the knock-off began appearing last month.

Merkel and Sarkozy are right about a Tobin tax

August 17, 2011

By Mark Thoma
All opinions expressed are his own.

The financial transactions tax is back in the news today. According to reports, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will propose a financial transactions tax in September.

Breaking the government-stock market feedback loop

August 17, 2011

By Roger Martin
The opinions expressed are his own.

The markets’ jitters last week in the wake of Standard & Poor’s downgrading of US government debt from AAA to AA+ reinforced the degree to which shifts in expectations about future events as opposed to changes in real events now dominate the economy.  In this new world, governments need to both recognize the futility of attempting to reign in expectations and stop creating mechanisms that cause changes in expectations to ripple damagingly through the real economy.

Does the administration really want defense spending cuts?

August 15, 2011

By Ben Adler
The opinions expressed are his own.

In the upcoming Super Committee deficit reduction negotiations, most Democrats believe they must order their priorities to reflect their values and stay on message. Their first choice for debt reduction should be increased tax revenues, second would be cuts to the Pentagon’s bloated budget, and third would be cuts to domestic spending, whether discretionary or mandatory (entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.)

Germany must defend the euro

August 12, 2011

By George Soros
The opinions expressed are his own.

Financial markets abhor uncertainty; that is why they are now in crisis mode. The governments of the eurozone have taken some significant steps in the right direction to resolve the euro crisis but, obviously, they did not go far enough to reassure the markets.

Are capitalists happier?

August 12, 2011

By Ronald Rotunda, Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson
The opinions expressed are their own.

from Tales from the Trail:

The Tea Party’s “blue deal” for America

August 12, 2011

By John F. Wasik
The opinions expressed are his own.

Imagine being elected to government even though you're openly hostile to it.

Such is the perverse arrangement the Tea Party has with the electorate, which is foisting a "Blue Deal" on Americans. As opposed to a "New" deal or even "Square" deal, the Blue Deal and its prolonged pain will hurt most middle-class Americans through higher costs in retirement, health care and public health.

The myth of the rational education market

August 11, 2011
By Peg Tyre
The opinions expressed are her own. 

In this excerpt from “The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve,” author Peg Tyre explains how the educational “free market” created by the charter school system doesn’t guarantee parents will pick the best schools for their kids. In fact, with objective information hard to come by, even more pressure is on parents to gain — and exploit — data about school quality in order to outperform the educational market.

Riots show us the fragility of law and order

August 11, 2011

By Nicholas Wapshott
All opinions expressed are his own.

The pictures from London of scorched double-deckers, burnt out stores, and hooded thugs hauling home flat screen TVs are deeply unsettling. Among those who have appeared in court so far are a postman, a school worker, a new father out shopping for diapers, the undergraduate daughter of a multi-millionaire, and an 11-year-old boy who posted on Facebook: “Let’s start a riot.” Something has profoundly changed in William Blake’s green and pleasant land. The honest, upright descendants of Londoners who met the Blitz with a shrug are now cowering in their homes to escape the marauding mob.

from Reuters Money:

Tea Party downgrade? Here’s what S&P actually said

August 10, 2011

Was it a Tea Party downgrade?

Beltway media has offered the usual pox-on-both-political houses analysis of Standard & Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt and this week's market meltdown. The two parties spent Monday blaming one other side for the debacle. According to this narrative, both sides must bear equal guilt.