Russian Lesson on Term Limits

by Chidem Kurdas The point of term limits is to prevent the buildup of political power by one person or group. In Russia’s ersatz version, Vladimir Putin merrily plays revolving door with his protégé Dmitry Medvedev. Mr. Putin may win the election on March 4th despite the persistent protests sparked by his latest round of musical chairs with … Continue reading Russian Lesson on Term Limits

M. Friedman Goes to Washington

by Chidem Kurdas Early in his career, long before he became a Nobel prizewinner and the household name for free market economist, Milton Friedman worked for the US Treasury. The following anecdote is from his 1998 memoir with his wife Rose, Two Lucky People.  This revealing example of how public officials operate illustrates, in Friedman’s words, … Continue reading M. Friedman Goes to Washington

Primaries, Public Interest and Angels

by Chidem Kurdas The Republican primaries have been all-out fights, with a series of contenders showing strength in polls and challenging the establishment favorite Mitt Romney, only to fall back after the initial success. Newt Gingrich is the latest to rise and, after his loss in the Florida primary, presumably to fall. It is not … Continue reading Primaries, Public Interest and Angels

Why Public Policy Is Inconsistent

by Chidem Kurdas Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, says regulatory policy is working against economic recovery and as such is contradictory. His complaint is about the new bank rules, but in fact government actions in myriad areas are at odds with each other. Consistency does not appear to be an object in … Continue reading Why Public Policy Is Inconsistent

Keynes, the Future and Present Austerity

by Chidem Kurdas In 1930, John Maynard Keynes dashed off an amazing prophecy. Extrapolating from the productivity gains of the past centuries, he came to the bold conclusion that the fundamental economic problem of scarcity would fade away in 100 years or so. Thanks to technological innovation and the accumulation of capital, the ancient condition … Continue reading Keynes, the Future and Present Austerity

Fannie, Dodd-Frank and Barney Frank

by Chidem Kurdas Barney Frank  won’t run for Congress after his present term expires.  This May there were news stories about his  ex-lover getting a high-paying job at mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae while he sat on the Congressional committee that oversaw the government-sponsored entity.  Regardless of what voters now think of Mr. Frank, Dodd-Frank, … Continue reading Fannie, Dodd-Frank and Barney Frank

Is USPS as American as Pumpkin Pie?

Chidem Kurdas The United States Postal Service is in a deep financial hole that looks to get deeper unless the institution undergoes a major revamp.  Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says current bills in Congress do not provide enough savings to get out of the hole. US Mail has historical roots. What would Benjamin Franklin, who was appointed … Continue reading Is USPS as American as Pumpkin Pie?

Energy Policy vs. Market

by Chidem Kurdas No matter how thoroughly public policy fails, there is no end to efforts in the same area.  Energy is a case in point. Reviewing the history of US energy policy in his new book, Columbia University legal scholar Michael Graetz writes: “The book  is, then, in one sense a story of failure…”  … Continue reading Energy Policy vs. Market

Politics of Healthcare Rationing

by Chidem Kurdas The Obama administration’s remake of the US healthcare system stands on three legs. It makes the purchase of insurance compulsory. It doles out new entitlements via expanded Medicaid, subsidies and certain benefit mandates. And it promises to control the growth of medical costs. The title of the 2010 law, the Affordable Care … Continue reading Politics of Healthcare Rationing

Revolution on Wall Street?

by Chidem Kurdas Protestors have “occupied” a square near Wall Street for weeks. Hundreds of them were arrested, some 700 while blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. The movement may be spreading to other American cities. At least one demonstrator says: “This is a revolution.” They complain of joblessness and the inequities of global capitalism, though the … Continue reading Revolution on Wall Street?