Protests and Reason

by Chidem Kurdas In the past week mass protests erupted in different parts of the world. The reasons were diverse. In the Middle East, demonstrations spread across the region following the killing of American diplomats in Libya over an anti-Muslim film. In China, crowds attacked Japanese shops and offices, over the two countries’ competing claims on … Continue reading Protests and Reason

Wisconsin Policy Lab

by Chidem Kurdas Paul Ryan is said to be influenced by Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand. One might add that as the representative for Wisconsin's first congressional district, he is from a state that has often been in the vanguard of policy thinking. That he came up with specific proposals for Medicare and … Continue reading Wisconsin Policy Lab

Student Debt Bubble Side Effect

by Chidem Kurdas Gore Vidal died a few days ago. He was a remarkably erudite author, as any reader of his marvelous historical novels – Burr and Lincoln are just a sample – notices.  He never went to college.  Born in 1925, he joined the army at age 17 and published his first novel before age … Continue reading Student Debt Bubble Side Effect

Regulation Czar’s Net Effect

by Chidem Kurdas Cass Sunstein, the White House regulatory affairs chief, is going back to academia.  It is not clear why he chose this particular time to return to Harvard Law School, leaving behind what looked like an experiment to implement the notions he advocated. Has he made a difference as federal overseer of rulemaking? The record … Continue reading Regulation Czar’s Net Effect

Who Should Audit the Fed?

by Chidem Kurdas A few days ago the House passed with a veto-proof majority the bill known as “audit the fed” or more plainly as H.R. 459, sponsored by Ron Paul.  If it became law, it would open the Federal Reserve’s policy deliberations and decisions, certain operations and dealings with foreign banks and governments to scrutiny … Continue reading Who Should Audit the Fed?

Uncertainty and the Keynesians

by Chidem Kurdas At the current economic juncture two camps offer diametrically opposed macro policy prescriptions. Economists on the Keynesian side such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman advocate further monetary easing by the Federal Reserve and massive new federal deficit spending. The opposing camp includes Austrians and monetarists. Among its distinguished members is Allan Meltzer, who in … Continue reading Uncertainty and the Keynesians

Hundred Years of Bailouts

by Chidem Kurdas After all that’s been said and written about financial crises, it is rare to come across useful insights.  Financing Failure. A Century of Bailouts by Vern McKinley documents a major continuity with past policy making. He shows that policies intended to prop up failing companies are nothing new—the same basic pattern has recurred time … Continue reading Hundred Years of Bailouts

Conversations Before Independence Day

by Chidem Kurdas The July 3rd, 1776, letter John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, after voting for the declaration of independence, is justly famous for his prediction that the occasion will be celebrated “by succeeding Generations, …..solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this … Continue reading Conversations Before Independence Day

Krugman Redistribution or Ponzi Scheme

by Chidem Kurdas A nice thing about Paul Krugman, he does not mince his words. Thus his new book, End This Depression Now!, repeats as boldly as possible the central point he’s repeatedly made in his New York Times columns and blogs for years. Namely, governments have to spend a lot more. They have to … Continue reading Krugman Redistribution or Ponzi Scheme

Libraries Linking Past to Future

by Chidem Kurdas A trustee of the New York Public Library, Robert Darnton, defends in the New York Review of Books the controversial plan to revamp the library’s Fifth Avenue building.  The issue goes beyond one building – however iconic – and one institution. Any book lover will sympathize with the plight of libraries.  Despite the … Continue reading Libraries Linking Past to Future

Should Banks Just Buy Treasuries?

by Chidem Kurdas There’s a widespread impression that the $2 billion-plus trading loss JP Morgan Chase announced a few days ago strengthens the case for more regulation of banks.  Below  Jerry O' Driscoll makes this argument more thoughtfully than I've seen any where else. Two basic facts are worth remembering. Fact number one is that in … Continue reading Should Banks Just Buy Treasuries?

DeLong, Friedman and Maximal Government

by Chidem Kurdas The case made for minimal government by Milton and Rose Friedman in their 1979 book, Free to Choose, has been debunked,  according to Berkeley professor Brad DeLong.  Basically, he avers that the Friedman program has been tried and failed. As a commentary on Friedman, this is outrageously misleading. But Mr. DeLong  provides … Continue reading DeLong, Friedman and Maximal Government

European Austerity in Perspective

by Chidem Kurdas Attempts to rein in government spending necessarily have unpleasant side effects.  Thus the Dutch government collapsed amid budget talks to control the deficit.   And British national output appears to be shrinking. Keynesians and advocates of the Obama administration’s colossal budget see this as vindication for unrestrained government spending. But in fact … Continue reading European Austerity in Perspective

Bo as Emblem of State Capitalism

by Chidem Kurdas The fallen Chinese political chieftain Bo Xilai and his wife are starting to sound like a bizarre combination of Macbeth and his Lady, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Fannie Mae—yes, the government created and backed housing finance entity. Under the leadership of the Mao-admiring “new left” Mr. Bo, the … Continue reading Bo as Emblem of State Capitalism

Taxpayers’ Future in Wisconsin Vote

by Chidem Kurdas Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is in the extremely unusual position of facing a recall vote less than two years after he was elected in 2010. The recall is orchestrated by unions that have gone all out to reverse his valiant effort to contain the growth in state and local spending. This vote … Continue reading Taxpayers’ Future in Wisconsin Vote

Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

by Chidem Kurdas We’ve been going back and forth on the economics of too-big-to-fail banks but paying less attention to the politics. The most recent ThinkMarkets broadside on banks is Jerry O’Driscoll’s post on the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas annual report. In part of the report, the Dallas Fed’s director of research Harvey Rosenblum argues … Continue reading Big Bank Breakup or Tea Party?

Oil Price Politics Implication

by Chidem Kurdas My previous post about government restrictions on oil and gasoline transportation drew comments saying prices are set in a world  market and the effect of United States policy is negligible. Numerous economic and geopolitical forces influence the price of oil, no question. That does not change the fact that the Jones Act … Continue reading Oil Price Politics Implication

Politics of Oil Prices

by Chidem Kurdas Oil from North Dakota is selling at a record discount, according to a March 1st news item in the local paper, the Bismarck Tribune.   By contrast, here in New York gasoline prices are near record highs. Between North Dakota and New York are thousands of miles but more crucially standing between us is … Continue reading Politics of Oil Prices

Big Bank Obesity Conundrum

by Chidem Kurdas Is the Federal Reserve a hotbed of trustbusters? Fed officials (as well as some academics) have been calling for forcible downsizing of big banks . “I am of the belief personally that the power of the five largest banks is too concentrated,” Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president Richard Fisher said a few days … Continue reading Big Bank Obesity Conundrum