The right’s intellectual devolution

I’ve been reading the accounts of the 14-year-old conservative Wunderkind, Jonathan Krohn, who wowed them at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in DC. Krohn’s speech, which consisted of little more than asserting that conservatism was a principle-based ideology that’s all about protecting The People, would have been unremarkable had it been delivered by someone over the age of 20. It really wasn’t all that remarkable even coming from a precocious teenager. But so desperate is the right for rising stars these days that they’re starry-eyed over this home-schooled phenom. It all put me… Read More

The virtues of concentration

On op-ed piece in today’s New York Times the latest source to point out that Canada’s banking system is now the most solid and stable in the world. The reasons: Canada has a very concentrated financial system, which is dominated by just five nation-spanning banks, and one that is tightly regulated. Curiously, as the author, Theresa Tedesco, point out, the Canadian national banking model was inspired by the USA’s own Alexander Hamilton, a centralizer and concentrator from way back. This confirms a couple of longstanding obsessions of mine. One is that concentrated financial systems are… Read More

Obama coddling bankers indeed

It was predicted in this space just two weeks ago: “Obama to coddle bankers.” Now we’ve got official confirmation of this from one of the prime coddle-ees: Citigroup. An analysis of the Treasury’s plan produced by two Citi analysts, Ryan O’Connell and Jerry Dorost, begins with this headline: New Treasury Stress Test Guidelines Do Not Appear Onerous and continues in this vein. The plan is “bank-friendly and investor-friendly.” The goal is to increase bank capital “while minimizing the amount and duration of any government’s direct ownership of common stock.” The stress tests aren’t very stresssful,… Read More

Obama to coddle bankers

Emily Dickinson once advised: “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.” Evidently the New York Times’ headline writers are taking advice from the enigmatic poet. The headline on the story on how the Obama administration will be going easy on banks and bankers getting bailout money blamed it all on the Treasury Secretary: “Geithner Said to Have Prevailed on the Bailout.” In internal administration battles, Geithner “successfully fought against” stricter rules on executive pay, and beat back the attempts to replace top maangement. Of course, to say that Geithner won these… Read More

Rant on the TARP overhaul

Tomorrow will bring the unveiling of the Obama administration’s overhaul of the Henry “Hank” Paulson bank bailout, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). [Apply for funds here.] From the leaks emerging, it looks like a significant portion of the scheme will amount to this: the government will lend money to hedge funds and the like at subsidized rates to buy toxic assets from banks – and the gov will guarantee the investors against losses. Evidently, the administration thinks the toxic assets are being underpriced by the markets. If they’re right, the buyers will make… Read More