Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Mattered This Week?

I'm going to say that it's the movement by the Fed towards actually trying to do something about the economy.  I know a lot of people think that Ben Bernanke has been slow to act and that his signals this week were still overly cautious, but whether that's true or not I do think that some action is coming, and that's pretty important to the question of whether the economy will be in good enough shape in 2012 for Barack Obama to be reelected.  (Not to mention the other reasons that the health of the economy is important). 

So that's what I thought mattered.  What do you think?


  1. The belated and timid moves by the Fed, well let's hope they matter.

    The breakout news of the massive foreclosure fraud by the major banks -- already matters, bigtime. Screeching halt on short sales and bank-owned and foreclosure sales already. Agents already handcuffed by insufficient inventory are advising against making offers on these distressed properties which may never close, homeowners' titles in dispute, title companies sweating large bullets about their exposure. Massive, massive systemic fraud by mortgage and banking system facilitated by the legal system stacked against the individual property owner. Will this be the final straw, bringing out the pitchforks, torches and cauldrons of tar and chicken feathers? Maybe.

    Finally, the largest one-year decline in the deficit in history, 9% in fiscal 2010, matters. It happened under a Democratic administration.

  2. I actually think both of those matter a little less than they may appear (thought not to the extent that they don't matter at all). The banks are just sitting on enough properties that they foreclosed on but haven't resold to keep the market going if they need to, and they have plenty of ways to correct most of the problems (though certainly losing some of the current cases).

    And the deficit thing is good policy, but it won't mean anything 'cause the only people who say they care about the deficit just want lower taxes.

  3. Is the deficit thing even good policy? It was guaranteed to happen going from a FY with a stimulus to one without one, and I'm not sure this should have been a stimulus-less year. Not given the meagerness of the stimulus we had, at any rate.

  4. I grant that the foreclosure story is a bit hard to follow -- journos are having a difficult time as well. Here's a couple of primers on the foreclosure/bank fraud crisis:
    Why Foreclosure Fraud Is So Dangerous to Property Rights | The Big Picture
    Why Care About the Banks' Foreclosure Scandal? : CJR

    A bit more serious than a matter of banks sitting on a few properties.

    Here's something that painfully, painfully doesn't matter, except that New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes is trying to gin up another epic Constitutional crisis between the Exec and Congress:
    Veto of Minor Bill Revives Dispute Over Separation of Powers -

    Jackie sez: "Does it matter? Yes, a lot.
    "The distinction between a pocket veto and a regular veto goes to the fundamental Constitutional balance of powers zealously guarded by both branches. A pocket veto kills legislation outright, giving the president the final say; a regular veto allows Congress the last word if two-thirds of the House and Senate vote to override the veto and make the bill law. "

    Or, I dunno, Jonathan, am I wrong? Does sending a "pocket veto" back to Congress constitute an epic struggle that matters?

  5. I think they are all nuts. According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.

    The DSM-IV is the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and, with each new edition, there are scores of new mental illnesses. Are we becoming sicker? Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy? Authors of the DSM-IV say that it’s because they’re better able to identify these illnesses today.



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