Wednesday October 01, 2014
March 20th, 2014
Congratulations, taxpayers! Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance companies whose September 2008 bailout set off a financial fireball, just repaid you in full. You even made a small profit from your $187.5 billion loan.
The companies are throwing off torrents of cash as once- debased assets recover value in the housing revival. So more payback is coming, right?
Tesla Motors, the California-based electric-car start-up, is anything but an epitome of American-style free-market entrepreneurship.
Its Model S performed and sold better than many critics, this one included, expected. Ditto for its stock price, which is more than $240 per share, though the company's market capitalization of nearly $29 billion - half that of Ford - strikes many critics, this one included, as unsustainable.
Democratic strategists were particularly dismayed at the loss of their congressional candidate, Alex Sink, in Tuesday's special election in Florida's 13th congressional district, fearing it might be seen as foretelling doom for the Obama presidency, with nearly three years still to run.
Four years ago, some of us watched with a mixture of incredulity and horror as elite discussion of economic policy went completely off the rails. Over the course of just a few months, influential people all over the Western world convinced themselves and each other that budget deficits were an existential threat, trumping any and all concern about mass unemployment. The result was a turn to fiscal austerity that deepened and prolonged the economic crisis, inflicting immense suffering.
I wrote a few paragraphs of this column between school drop-off and an appointment. I sent a bunch of emails between making dinner and taekwondo. Bedtime reading with the kids, then more writing at 1 a.m., after a few hours of sleep. Then back up at 4 a.m. to write and sign up for summer camp.
There's a name for this. It's called "time confetti." It's miserable. And it's part of why we are all Overwhelmed.
I (sort of) understand about Angela Merkel and Americans who are just "two hops" (connections) from suspected terrorists. I understand mining all of our data to look for word patterns that could point to plans to make airplanes fall from the sky. Indeed, as half of the world continues to search for one lost aircraft, I really do understand that piece.
But CIA agents searching the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee members who oversee them?
We now have even more proof that our burgeoning intelligence agencies, which were given unprecedented latitude to wage war against terrorists, are dangerously out of control.
The shocking level of income inequality in this country has set off alarms that grow louder by the day, but little seems to be underway to reverse the trend.
As a January International Monetary Fund paper points out:
I'm delighted to announce that the winner of my 2014 "win-a-trip" contest is ...
Oh, hang on. Maybe I should first exhort students to travel on their own - and cite Utah.
Utah may well be the most cosmopolitan state in America. Vast numbers of young Mormons - increasingly women as well as men - spend a couple of years abroad as missionaries and return jabbering in Thai or Portuguese and bearing a wealth of international experience.
In advance of St. Patrick's Day, I went time traveling, back to the 1840s and Ireland's great famine. On one side of the Irish Sea was Victorian England, flush with the pomp and prosperity of the world's mightiest empire. On the other side were skeletal people, dying en masse, the hollow-bellied children scrounging for nettles and blackberries.