James Pethokoukis

Bill Clinton for Fed chairman

June 16, 2009

As long as we are politicizing the Federal Reserve and shredding its independence, why not Bill Clinton for Fed chairman? It’s not as loopy an idea as you might think. While the Fed chief has typically been an economist or banker, that’s not always true of central bankers in other countries. The former head of Iceland’s central bank, David Oddsson, previously served as that nation’s prime minister.

Should budget-strapped California lose voting rights?

June 16, 2009

That is the tongue-in-cheek idea from Ed Morrissey:

Perhaps Congress should set the rules so that any state applying for a federal bailout will get treated like the District of Columbia. Since they seem keen on surrendering their sovereign status, they can have non-voting delegations to the House and Senate until they repay whatever federal dollars they take to cover their shortfall.  Considering the vast majority of California’s elected representatives on Capitol Hiill, that would be in practical terms a net plus for Congress, although an egregious violation of the Constitution.  (Yes, I’m being glib.)

Volcker: Mark-to-market accounting made things worse

June 16, 2009

The former Fed chair and current Obama adviser speaks (via the Big Picture):

There isn’t much doubt that attempts to enforce strict application of mark-to-market accounting procedures has contributed to confusion, uncertainty and inconsistencies among financial institutions. There is a strong case for reviewing the application of so-called fair value standards to commercial banks, insurance companies and perhaps certain other regulated financial institutions.

Did Obamacrat healthcare reform just flatline?

June 16, 2009

Perhaps at least the public option. Francis Cianfrocca notes that the health insurance stocks are up strongly on a down market day:

White House: Climate change could turn Minneapolis into Miami

June 16, 2009

This long awaited U.S. government report sees U.S. temps rising as much as  10 degrees this century. Here is the exec summary. Unless this stuff comes with an economic cost-benefit anlysis of mitigation strategies, you are really only getting half the story

Obama throws Kennedy healthcare bill under the bus

June 16, 2009

From ABC News:

This is not the Administration’s bill,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement following the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s health care reform legislation, “and it’s not even the final Senate Committee bill.

Healthcare reform may cost $4 trillion over ten years

June 16, 2009

Here is another analysis of the Kennedy health plan, from consultancy HSI:

1) The plan lowers the uninsured significantly, to less than 1% of the population, but not without a cost of over four trillion dollars over 10 years.

VAT attack on healthcare

June 16, 2009

Ezra Klein notices that the value-added tax option to pay for healthcare reform is still floating around. Not a good idea, he says:

A phony recovery?

June 16, 2009

From former Morgan Stanley economist Andy Xie:

Contrary to all the market noise, there are no signs of a significant economic recovery. So-called green shoots in the global economy are mostly due to inventory cycles. Stimuli might juice up growth a bit in the second half 2009. Nothing, however, suggests a lasting recovery. Markets are trading on imagination. … The noise would be to emphasize the “temporary” nature of the stimulus. The market will probably be fooled again. It will fully wake up only in 2010. The United States has no way out but to print money. As a rational country, it will do what it has to, regardless of its rhetoric. This is why I expect a second dip for the global economy in 2010. … The world is setting up for a big crash, again. Since the last bubble burst, governments around the world have not been focusing on reforms. They are trying to pump a new bubble to solve existing problems. Before inflation appears, this strategy works. As inflation expectation rises, its effectiveness is threatened. When inflation appears in 2010, another crash will come.

Obama’s bad healthcare day

June 16, 2009

First, Obama gets booed by the doctors at the AMA conference. Then the Congressional Budget Office prices the Kennedy-Dood healthcare bill at $1 trillion over ten years but only covers an additional 16 million people. The analysis does not include an expansion of Medicaid — which, of course, would mean more people would be covered but at a higher cost. Drip, drip, drip …