Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dr. Doom

Whenever I see something from Nouriel Roubini, I check it out for several reasons; he's rather brilliant, he's a professor of economics at the Stern Business School at New York University and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, and his background is extremely impressive.

But, perhaps most of all, his ability to foresee the likely outcome of all things economic has been uncanny for at least the last couple of years. Given that he was warning of the economic circumstances we find ourselves in today several years ago, it's no wonder he has earned the nick-name "Dr. Doom", and rightly so.

Having said that, I don't agree with all of what he says regarding his prescription to fix our economic problems because I gather he's of the Keynesian School of Economics but if not, then perhaps he's simply speaking from a perspective that our government will be able to understand. In other words, I believe the Keynesian philosophy of economics is flawed but it's the current economic philosophy our government embraces*. And Roubini speaks in terms they understand.

At any rate, Roubini is refreshing because he tells it like he sees it and he doesn't seem to care if anyone's offended. Here is a recent article from Roubini that shows he doesn't have favorites and, perhaps what I find most encouraging is, he puts much of the responsibility for the present dilemma squarely where it belongs. Advocating that those who are responsible take responsibility is certainly not politically correct these days but I never said Roubini cared about such silliness.

Check out some of his other articles here.

* Note that Keynes's idea's became less influential in the 1970s, after attacks from Milton Friedman and other economists who were less optimistic than Keynes about the potential for interventionist government policy to complement the free market. But in 2008, high level policy makers in the world's modern economies have shown a renewed interest in implementing economic solutions in accordance with the recommendations of Keynesian economics - such as the fiscal stimulus and far-reaching government intervention behind the plans of President Barack Obama and other global leaders to rescue the economy.

Editor's note: So we would solve our current economic crisis that has been caused by excessive borrowing and spending by more borrowing and spending??? If they are wrong, all of this printing of money and spending will end very, very badly.

Murray Rothbard considered Keynes an intellectual lightweight, fixated on simple short-term solutions to complex long-term problems, obsessed with his own ego and influence, and one of the most destructive statist intellectuals of the 20th century.

For a better treatment on John Maynard Keynes, see this link.

Before the Cock Crows Thrice

By now you've probably heard that our President spoke recently at Georgetown - a Catholic university, need I remind you - but not before insisting that the Latin letters IHS on the pediment behind the podium be covered up. The President evidently wished not to give offense to any viewers of the speech who might suffer an attack of the vapors at the sight of the Latin symbol of Christ, which makes me wonder whether the next time he visits a mosque if he'll insist that any symbols of Islam be concealed.

James Schall at The Catholic Thing has similar musings:

What interests me here is this: If this president speaks at a Jewish Synagogue, or a Baptist church, or the Crystal Cathedral, or the Muslim Mosque on Massachusetts Avenue, the Ravens Stadium, the George Washington University, the headquarters of Planned Parenthood, or the hall of the local Atheist Society, will the same policy be followed? Will all signs of what the place actually is and stands for be covered over? If so, it represents equitable treatment, but is it wise? Is the president never to appear in any venue with obvious particular commitments, and why choose religious and not secular signs? Should, say, a university seal be exempted, but a crucifix not?

Will presidents be able to appear anywhere outside government buildings if the rules are really equally applied to both religious and secular? And this raises a real question: Is it American? George Washington once talked before our New North Hall, so did President Clinton. I guess a porch does not need much cover-up. But is the American understanding of state and religion designed to hide any religious or cultural sign whatsoever? If a president is buried at a local church, as President Woodrow Wilson is, must the funeral be covered over so that no signs of a church are seen?

This country does not hide its religious presence. If a president does not want to speak in a given place, fine. Don't ask. But if he does, it should not be on condition of the place's ceasing to present what it historically is.

I don't know which is more disgraceful, that the White House insisted that the Christian symbol be covered up or that a putatively Catholic university acquiesced to the demand. Georgetown's willingness to go along with this repudiation of their identity recalls to mind the story of Peter who, when challenged by the crowd to own up to his friendship with Jesus, chose instead to deny that friendship. It's a story of shame, betrayal and cowardice not unlike the events at Georgetown.

The cock is crowing for Georgetown just as it did for Peter.

At the above link Mary Eberstadt follows Schall's post with an amusing letter to the Vatican from the White house expressing its concerns about Mr. Obama's upcoming visit. It's a hoot.


Financial Oligarchs

Bill caught this outstanding article in The Atlantic, authored by former IMF bigwig Simon Johnson, and passed it on to ruin our day.

Here's The Atlantic's lede:

The [economic] crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government-a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF's staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we're running out of time.

The difficulty is that the people who control the financial empire are so inextricably intertwined with our political class that it's almost impossible to separate them.

The article's a little lengthy, but it's very enlightening. Unfortunately, by the time you're finished reading it you'll probably have become a Marxist.