James Pethokoukis

5 EU options for Greece, inspired by Lehman

May 21, 2010

Don Rissmiller of Strategas looks at how the lessons of the US financial crisis could instruct policy responses for the EU and its Greece problem:

Wall Street scores a win on financial reform … for now

May 21, 2010

A sigh of relief is due on Wall Street. The procedural finale for the U.S. Senate’s debate on financial reform came just in time for the big banks. The bill just kept getting tougher as the talk dragged on. But it could have been worse. While banks’ future activities and profitability may get pinched, their core business model appears intact. In the end, Wall Street got nicked, not nuked. Some observations:

U.S. reforms will nick, not nuke, big banks

May 20, 2010

A sigh of relief is due on Wall Street. The procedural finale for the Senate’s debate on financial reform came just in time for banks. The bill got tougher as the talk dragged on. But it could have been worse. While banks’ future activities and profitability may get pinched, their core business model appears intact.

Paul Ryan and free-market populism

May 20, 2010

Over at RealClearPolitics, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin further fleshes out the emerging “free-market populism” meme beginning to emerge in the GOP:

A ‘new’ GOP on its way?

May 20, 2010

So says Mr. Lawrence Kudlow:

A new tea party center is forming in the Republican Senate caucus. It will be the first Reagan nucleus in many years, one that will give the GOP a strong limited-government, cut-spending, low-tax-rate, stop-government-controls, and end-Bailout Nation message that will have clarity and gusto and will reverberate throughout the country.

Best of the blogosphere

May 11, 2010

The best bits of the best stuff I have read today:
Larry Kudlow, CNBC, on the European bailout:

State capitalism, crony capitalism

May 11, 2010

When Ian Bremmer offers to tell you “what comes next, it is wise to pay attention:

The false choice of higher taxes and less spending

May 11, 2010

Over at NRO, Kevin Williamson tries to figure out how to reduce the US budget deficit:

Dealing with debt: America needs a growth experiment

May 10, 2010
Europe’s debt problems should inspire Americans to explore just how the U.S. will solve its own fiscal woes. I mean, no one is going to cut us a check like Germany and France just did for Greece. This is a topic I tackle in a piece I just wrote for The Weekly Standard. A few key points: 1) Cutting spending and raising taxes is a risky formula. It doesn’t have a great track record:
Since 1980, some 30 debt-plagued nations have tried to reduce their indebtedness through such austerity measures. In practically all cases, according to a new study by financial giant UBS, the increase in national debt was only slowed, not reversed, by such policy pain.
2) Trying to take more from rich people has its limits. Higher and higher income taxes or even wealth taxes create incentive to find tax havens and avoid productive work or capital allocation. 3) Cutting spending is better than raising taxes. Hey, I even have a study to prove it:
A 2009 study by Harvard University’s Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna. It examined 40 years of debt reduction plans by advanced economies and found that “those based upon spending cuts and no tax increases are more likely to reduce deficits and debt over GDP ratios than those based upon tax increases.” They’re also associated with higher economic growth.
4) Less spending +more growth. This is my money graf from the piece:
But what if (a) government spending tracks current projections over the next 70 years, (b) government revenue as a percentage of GDP stays at its historic average of 18 percent, and (c) the economy were somehow to grow a bit faster than its 20th-century average, about 3.5 percent. Under those conditions, according a recent study by JPMorgan Chase, a much wealthier America (generating $100 trillion in tax revenue rather than $50 trillion) would be able to afford projected spending without raising taxes. The long-term budget gap would vanish. … Indeed, that is typically how successful countries in the UBS study managed to get their books in order; they grew their economies faster than they added debt. … Easier said than done, of course. … And there is no one policy to help make that happen. It will take a full-spectrum effort: lower taxes on companies and capital, pork-free spending on infrastructure and basic research (beyond health care), an education system that teaches students rather than feathering the nests of teachers’ unions. Every aspect of U.S. public policy will need to be optimized for economic growth.

Are US regulators blowing it … again

May 7, 2010

Karen Shaw Petrou at Federal Financial Analytics asks a good question:

Last Friday, we outlined the systemic-risk implications of the growing EU crisis. In the days that followed, LIBOR spreads tightened, funding dried up and our fears only rose. So, we were a bit surprised to hear a senior U.S. bank regulator tell a radio audience Thursday morning not to bother their heads about any prospects that the European crisis could wash ashore. That was, of course, followed in a few hours by a classic systemic-risk crisis on the exchanges. Was the U.S. regulator keeping the game-face on so as not to scare the children? Or, more worryingly, are U.S. regulators still unprepared for another bout of systemic risk, whistling in the dark much as they did when they told us that subprime-mortgage risk couldn’t spill over?