Opinion

The Great Debate

Obama disappoints on bank reform

— Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. —

President Obama announced he wants to prohibit banks from forming hedge funds, private equity funds and trading securities on their own accounts, and he wants to limit the size of banks and financial institutions generally.

Hedge funds, private equity funds and proprietary securities trading did not cause the banks to get into trouble, and the size of banks did not cause the credit crisis.

Banks, small and large, failed or required bailouts because of poorly considered loans, and the kinds of engineered products that were created from those loans by non-bank entities.

Collateralized debt obligations and swaps created and marketed by non-bank financial institutions, such as Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs, compounded the errors of foolish bankers. Later, Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions became banks to access inexpensive credit from the Federal Reserve, but those decisions could be reversed if bank holding companies are not permitted to trade on their own accounts.

Unemployment to stay above 10 percent in 2010

morici– Peter Morici is a Professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and former Chief Economist at the United States International Trade Commission. The views –

The economy continues to bleed jobs, even as GDP rebounds. Employment may be a lagging indicator, but job losses should have abated by now even if a lot of new jobs are not being added.

Coming off a deep recession, GDP growth should have been much stronger than the 2.8 percent recorded in the third quarter. A poorly conceived and badly executed stimulus package and the failure to correct structural problems that caused the Great Recession are holding down growth.

China’s yuan, not the dollar, is too cheap

morici– Peter Morici is a Professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and former chief economist at the United States International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. —

From Berlin to Bangkok, governments are screaming about the falling dollar, because they can no longer rely on reckless American consumers to power their economies.

From the late 1980s to 2007, the global economy enjoyed The Great Moderation-low inflation and sustained growth interrupted by brief recessions. Driving global growth was an eight fold increase in the U.S. trade deficit, facilitated by a doubling of the value of the dollar against other currencies from 1989 to 2002.

Obama’s troubles with healthcare

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and the former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. –

Healthcare reform is in trouble, because President Obama and congressional leaders are not adequately addressing issues that trouble many Americans.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius caution Americans to ignore terrorist claims about death panels. Reasonable enough—unseemly critics on both the right and the left seek to stir up unwarranted hysteria.

Healthcare reform and my expensive education in economics

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and the former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. –

America’s healthcare system is broken, but President Obama inspires little confidence with his fix.

Healthcare absorbs 18 percent of GDP—about 50 percent more than in other wealthy countries. Prices are too high and are a terrible burden on jobs creation.

What to expect from Friday’s jobs report

morici — Peter Morici is a Professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and former Chief Economist at the United States International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. –

On Friday, the Labor Department will report employment data for May. In April, the economy lost 539,000 jobs, and the consensus forecast is for another 550,000 jobs lost in May. My forecast is for a 561,000 loss.

In Friday’s jobs report the key variables to watch are:

Jobs Creation. May 8 the Labor Department reported the economy lost 539,000 payroll jobs in April, down from 699,000 in March. However, a significant part of this improvement was a surge in temporary Census Bureau positions. The private sector still lost more than 600,000 jobs. In recent weeks, new unemployment claims have remained stubbornly above 600 thousand, and my forecast is 561,000 jobs lost in April.

Even if the economic contraction slows in the second and third quarters, job losses above 400,000 appear likely for the next several months. Job losses will top 7 or 8 million before the hemorrhaging ends.

Fixing health care

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and the former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. –

American health care is broken.

At 16 percent, the United States spends a much larger share of GDP on health care than Western European economies. Yet the United States has about 45 million uninsured, while its peers do not.

Many Americans between 50 and 65 cling to jobs they don’t want simply to keep health benefits. Their European cohorts are not so constrained.

First 100 Days: Fix the banks

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. —

For every new president, campaign promises and inaugural idealism must give way to the hard choices that measure the mettle of their leadership.

Now Barack Obama must act pragmatically to fix the banks or the economy will sink under their weight.

Revival of U.S. automaking awaits if UAW will follow Toyota

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. –

General Motors and Chrysler are on the anvil of history. United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger holds the hammer and will determine whether they emerge more competitive or shattered in pieces and sold to foreign investors.

In December, George W. Bush granted $17.4 billion in temporary loans on the condition those firms convert two-thirds of their debt into equity. Another condition was to persuade the UAW to accept stock for one half of what these companies owe to fund retiree health care and align wages, benefits and work rules with those of the Japanese automakers operating in the United States.

Bush’s auto plan will test Obama’s union loyalties

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.  The opinions expressed are his own. —

President Bush has agreed to lend GM and Chrysler $17.4 billion on the condition these firms complete a plan to accomplish financial viability.

The agreements set goals for automakers: converting two-thirds of their debt into equity; paying company stock to fund one half of the Voluntary Employee Benefits Associations, which fund retiree health care benefits and remove these costs from future liabilities; aligning wages, benefits and work rules with U.S. Nissan, Toyota or Honda operations.

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