Proceeding through a litany of what he perceives to be McCain missteps, Obama mentioned that McCain had recently “bragged about how, as chairman of the Commerce Committee in the Senate, he had oversight of every part of the economy. Well, all I can say to Sen. McCain is nice job.”
The audience laughed.
“Nice job!” Obama repeated, sarcasm dripping from his voice. “I mean, where is he getting these lines? The lobbyists running his campaign?
“You all remember Phil Gramm,” Obama said, once again bringing up the former Texas senator and McCain friend whom McCain distanced himself from several months ago. “He says we’re just going through a mental recession and called the United States of America a nation of whiners. I’m not making this up. You can’t make this up. It’s like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ routine.”
The crowd roared with approving laughter.
“So, then yesterday, Sen. McCain’s big solution to the crisis we’re facing is — put on your seatbelts — a commission,” Obama said. “A commission! Well, that’s Washington-speak for ‘We’ll get back to you later.’”
Asked for “specific skills” she could cite to rebut critics who question her grasp of international affairs, she replied, “I am prepared.”
“I have that confidence. I have that readiness,” Palin said. “And if you want specifics with specific policies or countries, you can go ahead and ask me. You can play ‘stump the candidate’ if you want to. But we are ready to serve.”
Last time I was interviewing for a job and I tried that when asked about actual skills, I was escorted out of the building.
Beckerblog The Recording Industry Association of America is declaring attorney-blogger Ray Beckerman a “vexatious” litigator and is seeking unspecified monetary sanctions to punish him in his defense of a New York woman accused of making copyrighted music available on the Kazaa file sharing system.
The RIAA said Beckerman, one of the nation’s few attorneys who defends accused file sharers, “has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass plaintiffs,” the RIAA wrote in court briefs. “Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions.”
Translation: he’s winning to much. Keep it up, Ray!
Merrill Lynch & Co. chief executive John Thain and two former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. colleagues he recruited may reap almost $200 million for their year running Merrill if they leave or are given lesser roles after Bank of America Corp. buys the brokerage.
“Investors will definitely be disappointed,” said Richard Bove, of Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. “Thain’s claim to fame here is that he kept them from going bankrupt.” Merrill spokesman William Halldin declined to comment.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for his work on the economics of information and was on the climate change panel that shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. Stiglitz, a supporter of Barack Obama, was a member and later chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration before joining the World Bank as chief economist and senior vice president.
This is not the first crisis in our financial system, not the first time that those who believe in free and unregulated markets have come running to the government for bail-outs. There is a pattern here, one that suggests deep systemic problems — and a variety of solutions:
1. We need first to correct incentives for executives, reducing the scope for conflicts of interest and improving shareholder information about dilution in share value as a result of stock options. We should mitigate the incentives for excessive risk-taking and the short-term focus that has so long prevailed, for instance, by requiring bonuses to be paid on the basis of, say, five-year returns, rather than annual returns.
2. Secondly, we need to create a financial product safety commission, to make sure that products bought and sold by banks, pension funds, etc. are safe for “human consumption.” Consenting adults should be given great freedom to do whatever they want, but that does not mean they should gamble with other people’s money. Some may worry that this may stifle innovation. But that may be a good thing considering the kind of innovation we had — attempting to subvert accounting and regulations. What we need is more innovation addressing the needs of ordinary Americans, so they can stay in their homes when economic conditions change.
3. We need to create a financial systems stability commission to take an overview of the entire financial system, recognizing the interrelations among the various parts, and to prevent the excessive systemic leveraging that we have just experienced.
4. We need to impose other regulations to improve the safety and soundness of our financial system, such as “speed bumps” to limit borrowing. Historically, rapid expansion of lending has been responsible for a large fraction of crises and this crisis is no exception.
5. We need better consumer protection laws, including laws that prevent predatory lending.
6. We need better competition laws. The financial institutions have been able to prey on consumers through credit cards partly because of the absence of competition. But even more importantly, we should not be in situations where a firm is “too big to fail.” If it is that big, it should be broken up.
These reforms will not guarantee that we will not have another crisis. The ingenuity of those in the financial markets is impressive. Eventually, they will figure out how to circumvent whatever regulations are imposed. But these reforms will make another crisis of this kind less likely, and, should it occur, make it less severe than it otherwise would be.
“We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah,” bin Laden said in the transcript.
I guess the Bush administration must be part of Al Qaeda, then.
When asked about Spain and Zapatero, by a Spanish reporter for a Spanish newspaper, McCain responded about Mexico and Latin America. A reader suggested something that Josh had already considered, that perhaps McCain thought the reporter was talking about the Zapatistas in Mexico, the guerilla group. But that’s not possible as the reporter clearly said she was talking about Spain and Spain’s leader, Zapatero. She told McCain this twice.
In January 2001, the month President Bush took office, the Congressional Budget Office released budget estimates for each of the next ten years (2002-2011). CBO predicted that the 2009 budget would show a $710 billion surplus. So the $546 billion deficit now predicted for 2009 is actually $1.3 trillion worse than CBO predicted nearly eight years ago. What caused this trillion-dollar decline?
Some people point to the economy. CBO’s 2001 projections came out before the 2001 recession and the 9/11 attacks, which further slowed the economy. A weaker economy means less tax revenue, which in turn means smaller surpluses or bigger deficits. Since the 2001 projections couldn’t factor these events in, it’s not surprising that they proved too optimistic.
But, in fact, the economy’s weaker-than-expected performance, along with other “technical” factors that are beyond policymakers’ control, account for less than a fourth of the $1.3 trillion deterioration in the budget. The other three-fourths — $1 trillion’s worth — is due to actions by the White House and Congress since 2001 — specifically, the tax cuts and spending increases they enacted.
And for “spending increases” read “increases in military and other security-related spending”.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is airing an unusual two-minute TV ad about the economy, calling for “shared responsibility” and “real regulation” to rein in an “anything-goes culture on Wall Street.”
The ad is part of the campaign’s effort to respond confidently and convincingly to this weekend’s financial meltdown.
Two-minute ads are sometimes used in the opening or closing days of a campaign, but are rarely seen in the heat of the fall.
Yet despite the seriousness of this crisis, Joe Scarborough (along with Wee Willie Geist and Salon’s Joan Walsh, oddly enough) mocked the ad for its lack of soundbytes and its abundance of specifics.
Lack. Of soundbytes.
What assets remain solid when the value of nearly all other financial assets are called into question? Data centers.
Lehman Brothers’ real estate, including two data centers, proved central to a deal yesterday in which Barclays agreed to pay $1.75 billion to acquire most of Lehman’s North American operations. The data centers and Lehman’s headquarters building accounted for $1.5 billion of the deal’s value, with the British bank paying just $250 million in cash for Lehman’s North American investment banking and capital markets businesses.
Rick Davis, the campaign manager for Sen. John McCain, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon condemning the incident.
“This is a shocking invasion of the Governor’s privacy and a violation of law,” Davis said. “The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them. We will have no further comment.”
True, of course. The problem, however, is this:
“If this woman is so careless as to conduct state business on a private e-mail account that has been hacked into, what in the world is she going to do when she has access to information that is vital to our national security interests?” she asked.
McLeod’s Anchorage attorney, Donald C. Mitchell, said Palin refused to comply with a public records request in June to divulge 1,100 e-mails sent to and from her personal accounts, citing executive privilege.
“There’s a reason the governor should be using her own official e-mail channels, because of security and encryption,” the attorney said. “She’s running state business out of Yahoo?”
Among the e-mails released as part of the records request in June were several from Frye asking a state official whether private e-mail accounts and messages sent to BlackBerry devices are immune to subpoena, then reporting the answer to the governor and her husband, Todd, who also uses a Yahoo! mail address.
And that last bit makes it look like she was doing or planning to do bad things with her personal accounts to keep the courts from getting a hold of it easily.
So, that’s an FBI visit for Anonymous, and a firing for the governor.
Remember those awful Microsoft ads with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates? Well, now you can forget them. Microsoft flacks are desperately dialing reporters to spin them about “phase two” of the ad campaign — a phase, due to be announced tomorrow, which will drop the aging comic altogether. Microsoft’s version of the story: Redmond had always planned to drop Seinfeld. The awkward reality: The ads only reminded us how out of touch with consumers Microsoft is — and that Bill Gates’s company has millions of dollars to waste on hiring a has-been funnyman to keep him company.
And if you think they’re in a mess, get this:
One new Microsoft commercial even begins with a company engineer who resembles John Hodgman, the comedian portraying the loser PC character in the Apple campaign. “Hello, I’m a PC,” the engineer says, echoing Mr. Hodgman’s recurring line, “and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”
What I’ve learned on marketing is that this is basically an explicit admission that Microsoft is the second-place brand. You never compare yourself to your competitors this way if you want to present yourself as number one.