James Saft

Budget cuts to test banks’ mettle

Apr 7, 2011 16:03 UTC

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

While it may well be a case of cut the U.S. budget or suffer a bond crisis, the current debate begs a question: who will pick up the slack in the economy and who exactly will finance them?

Democrats and Republicans raced, in a plodding sort of way, on Wednesday to reach a compromise budget deal that would keep the government operating past a Friday deadline.

Regardless of what may be wise, the likelihood is that there are going to be further substantial cuts in government expenditure, though this won’t begin in earnest until after the 2012 elections.

That is when the fun is going to start.

It is a simple fact that every dollar less in government expenditure is a dollar less received by the private sector.

Households in the U.S., being already in a sort of adrenal failure, are in no shape to expand spending and borrowing when the government contracts. Even the most extreme monetary policy over the past three years has only managed to bring on a tepid resumption in consumer spending, and, given the state of the housing market and the depressing path of wages, families beneath the top 10 percent are simply not going to go on a spree.

China hike could help risk assets elsewhere

Dec 30, 2010 15:43 UTC

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

China’s Christmas day interest rate hike may prove to be bad for global growth but good, at least for a time, for risky assets.

From that perspective, the Chinese policy change could end up being a much-needed helping hand to Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, who has engineered a policy partly aimed to boost economic growth through the false miracle of asset price inflation.

The Chinese rate hike, taking the benchmark interest rate up by a quarter of a percentage point, signals an increased willingness by Chinese authorities to do what they must to dampen the party domestically. The move increased the one-year lending rate to 5.81 percent and one-year deposit rate to 2.75 percent.

End Washington-Wall St revolving door

Dec 16, 2010 14:03 UTC

The revolving door between government and Wall Street is wrong, antithetical to both democracy and capitalism and ought to be stopped.

For the second time in two weeks a high-ranking recent U.S. public servant has traded a position of influence in the corridors of power for a massive paycheck working for an institution that owes its very existence to government largess.

This time it is Theo Lubke, who has transitioned smoothly from heading the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s derivative regulation effort to working for Goldman Sachs, where he can be expected to, well, help it do well out of regulation, current and future.