James Pethokoukis

Two years into the credit crunch: a status report

July 17, 2009

Where is the US economy, some two years into the credit crunch (numbers gathered by David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff)?:

Is China experiencing a credit bubble?

July 17, 2009

Here are several great charts from Wachovia looking at the Chinese economy in an effort to determine if the nation is experiencing a lending bubble. The firm doesn’t think so — at least not yet — but given government influence in its capital allocation system and the need to keep growth high in a weak global economy, I have to wonder.

Frozen credit markets continue to pink up nicely

July 17, 2009

Yes, credit markets are healthier, though clearly not back to normal (chart from Pimco):

Reassessing Hank Paulson

July 16, 2009

Imagining that Henry Paulson would threaten Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis into completing the Merrill Lynch acquisition late last year never required a huge mental leap. “I intended to deliver a strong message,” Paulson anticlimactically acknowledged in congressional testimony.

Pelosi: If surtax passes, it’s staying, get used to it

July 16, 2009

Madam Speaker speaks (via The Hill) about the surtax and what it might be used for:

How ‘hedge fund’ Democrats are influencing tax bill

July 16, 2009

I just got this email on the markup of the House healthcare bill:

The healthcare surtax would apply before any tax deductions are allowed (charitable, mortgage, etc.), save one: margin loan interest. So if you want to take out a loan to buy stock, the interest on that will still be deductible against the surtax. But if you want to give to charity or pay your mortgage, you’re out of luck. Those aren’t deductible against the surtax.

Ouch! CBO says Dem healthcare plan worsens budget picture

July 16, 2009

Is history repeating itself?  High-cost estimates by the Congressional Budget Office helped kill Clintoncare back in the 1990s. Now here is what Doug Elmendorf of the CBO said today about Obamacare:

Would America have collapsed without TARP?

July 16, 2009

A fascinating exchange just occur ed during Hank Paulson’s testimony on Capitol Hill about the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch merger. (Paulson admitted in his testimony that he more or less threatened Ken Lewis with dismissal if Lewis scuttled the deal late last year.)

Obama’s self-defeating war on the wealthy

July 16, 2009

The push by the Justice Department, along with the Internal Revenue Service, to compel UBS  to fork over the names of some 52,000 American taxpayers with banking accounts in Switzerland may produce an important benefit for the Obama administration — or so it might think. How so? Those presumably wealthy 52,000 taxpayers, along with some two million other upper-income Americans, can be drafted to help pay for U.S. healthcare reform.

US top tax rate would be 52% with health surtax

July 15, 2009

Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation emails me:

As calculated by the Tax Foundation, when factoring in the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, average state and local income taxes, Medicare taxes, and the new surtax, the average top marginal income tax rate in the U.S. would be 52 percent!