Opinion

The Great Debate

Wen’s U.S. posturing doesn’t matter – yet

James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

What is more remarkable, that the premier of America’s largest creditor publicly raised concerns about U.S. creditworthiness or that the market took the news so easily in its stride?

“We have lent a massive amount of capital to the United States, and of course we are concerned about the security of our assets,” Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday at a news conference to close the annual session of parliament.

“To speak truthfully, I do indeed have some worries. I would like, through you, to once again request America to maintain their creditworthiness, keep their promise and guarantee the safety of Chinese assets.”

Can’t be blunter than that; the Creditor-in-Chief at the top of the country whose foreign reserves include about $1.4 trillion of U.S. dollar assets is now fretting that he won’t get his money back and is talking about “promises” and “guarantees.”

“Truman doctrine” could boost IMF firepower

Paul Taylor Great Debate– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The day before he returned to the U.S. Treasury for six weeks to help the understaffed Obama administration, Edwin Truman published a proposal to give the International Monetary Fund more firepower to fight the financial crisis.

Truman’s idea — a one-off $250 billion allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to IMF member states — looks like the quickest way to put a safety net under developing countries and avert financial contagion. The Group of 20 world leaders should embrace it at the meeting in London on April 2.

Divorce marked to market

MARKETS-GLOBAL /– Margaret Doyle is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

The Myerson divorce case in Britain makes compelling reading, as all rich bust-ups do. Regardless of whether the judges make Ingrid Myerson hand back 3.2 million pounds of her 11.1 million pound payout to compensate for the decline in her ex-husband’s shares, she is a lucky woman.

Thanks to her divorce last year from fund manager Bryan who, as one half of Active Value Advisers, was the scourge of corporate UK, she is independently wealthy. Had the marriage survived, she would probably be — like him — worthless.

Too failed to live not too big to fail

James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The U.S. policy of keeping zombie financial institutions alive is so clearly failing that it is now attracting attack from inside policymakers’ circle of covered wagons.

The most interesting intervention in the banking debate in the past few weeks was an extraordinary attack by Kansas City Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig on what he termed a policy of “piecemeal” nationalization which leaves discredited management in place, repels new capital from the banking system and allows bad assets to fester rather than be cleared.

An equal opportunity recession?

Jim CarrJames H. Carr is chief operating officer for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a Washington-based association that promote access to basic banking services for America’s working families. He is a member of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s “Experts of Color Clearinghouse”. The views expressed are his own.

The U.S. economy is unraveling at a pace not seen in decades. The more than 650,000 jobs lost last month has contributed to a growing concern that the unemployment rate could rise to 10 percent or higher before the economy rebounds. At the center of the economy’s instability is a foreclosure crisis that has claimed 3.5 million homes in the last year alone, and threatens the loss of an additional 8 to 10 million homes to foreclosure over the next five years.

The loss of wealth associated with the collapse of the housing market is staggering. More than $5 trillion in housing equity has virtually evaporated since the foreclosure crisis began. Major stock indexes have also been cut in half, further contributing to decreased consumer confidence, substantially reduced spending, lower productivity, rising unemployment and additional foreclosures.

Hitting the reset button: the silver lining

Jeffrey Bussgan– Jeff Bussgang is a General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm in Boston. This post originally appeared in the Vox Populi section of www.peHUB.com. The views expressed are his own. –

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the newly invented personal computer. In 1982, I used my paper route and Bar Mitzvah money to purchase an Apple II+ PC (my parents did subsidize the purchase somewhat, I confess). I was mesmerized by the magic of the personal computer and all its possibilities: games, programming, communications and more.

But what I really fell in love with was this new, magical thing called the reset button. Don’t like where you find yourself in the middle of Space Invaders? Hit the reset button. Frozen out in the midst of trying to log on to a bulletin board? Hit the reset button. Mad at your older sister for messing with your top score in Asteroids? Hit the reset button. This magical button represented a unique opportunity to erase the past and begin anew with a clean slate.

Jump-start U.S. growth through immigration

 Diana Furchtgott-Roth– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. —

When people think of what to do to help the U.S. economic recovery, admitting more immigrants into America isn’t what usually comes to mind. But a new study by Arlene Holen, an economist and senior fellow with the Technology Policy Institute, could contribute to resolving the current economic crisis.

The study finds that letting in more highly-skilled immigrants would generate more tax revenue, and over time raise labor earnings and national income. (Click here for the study in PDF format.)

The Dow at 36,000 and the end of history

dow36000

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate — Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. –

It’s no longer in print but you can get it over the Internet and $1.99 (plus shipping and handling) buys you a well-preserved copy of Dow 36,000, a book that has become an emblem for really, really wrong forecasts.

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average below 7,000 and the U.S. in its worst financial crisis in 80 years, re-reading the book is a bizarre experience, as well as a lesson that being wrong does not necessarily harm the prognosticator’s career.

Economic stimulus Beijing-style: I treat, you pay

wei_gu_debate– Wei Gu is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own. –

Beijing may criticize American consumers for spending money they do not have, but the truth is Chinese leaders do the same, they just make sure it doesn’t end up on their account.

In its $585 billion economic stimulus package, the central government is contributing just a quarter of the funds needed, leaving the rest of the tab to banks, local governments and the private sector.

First the stock market, now water

Jonas Minton– Jonas Minton is Water Policy Advisor for the Planning and Conservation League, an environmental advocacy organization.  Previously he was deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources. The views expressed are his own. –

In many ways, water policy in the Western United States mirrors the economic policies which created our financial catastrophe. Here in the West we’ve seen a massive development boom fueled by unrealistic expectations of ever-increasing supply.

Water contracts have been issued for many times the amount of water that nature can reliably provide. Wildly optimistic appraisals of water availability are being used to justify long-term, otherwise infeasible projects. Long held cautionary principles are being overlooked or eliminated in the rush to fulfill promises and support dreams that are unsustainable. And the public is being actively encouraged to invest billions more in bonds to subsidize the very system that is driving us to the crisis point.

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