Items of Interest:
David Kamp / Vanity Fair:
Rethinking the American Dream -- Everyone wants “the American Dream,” but do we even know what that means anymore? While the phrase was coined only in 1931, by historian James Truslow Adams, the idea has taken many forms: the individualism of the Wild West, the social compact of the New Deal, the suburban rewards of the G.I. Bill, and the hyped-up materialism of recent decades. As many declare the dream in danger, David Kamp proposes a different way of thinking about our national ambition...
These are tough times for the American Dream. As the safe routines of our lives have come undone, so has our characteristic optimism—not only our belief that the future is full of limitless possibility, but our faith that things will eventually return to normal, whatever “normal” was before the recession hit. There is even worry that the dream may be over—that we currently living Americans are the unfortunate ones who shall bear witness to that deflating moment in history when the promise of this country began to wither. This is the “sapping of confidence” that President Obama alluded to in his inaugural address, the “nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”
But let’s face it: If Moss Hart, like so many others, was able to rally from the depths of the Great Depression, then surely the viability of the American Dream isn’t in question. What needs to change is our expectation of what the dream promises—and our understanding of what that vague and promiscuously used term, “the American Dream,” is really supposed to mean...
Paul Kedrosky / Infectious Greed:
The Death of Dreams/Equities/etc. -- A friend argues that the current Vanity Fair has the true “death of equities” magazine cover of this era. The title: “Is it time to rethink the American dream?”
Madoff’s World -- Among Bernard Madoff’s many dupes were his closest friends, including two tycoons he loved as surrogate fathers: the late Norman F. Levy—whose girlfriend, supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice, would lose her life savings—and the prominent philanthropist Carl J. Shapiro. Amid the sobs, screams, and curses in Aspen, Palm Beach, and New York, with victims sharing their stories, the author gets behind Madoff’s affable façade, to reveal his most intimate betrayals.
Over dinner in New York one night in January, I was airing my frustration concerning Bernard Madoff. Everybody had read about the losses he had inflicted on foundations associated with Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, and Mort Zuckerman, I told my dinner companions, but after having interviewed nearly 40 of his other financial victims, I still couldn’t get a picture of what the man was like. “If you want to know about Bernie Madoff,” said Mary T. Browne, the renowned psychic and author, who counsels many heavy hitters on Wall Street, “you need to talk to my friend Carmen Dell’Orefice.” She was referring to one of the original supermodels, the platinum-blonde beauty who had posed for Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Francesco Scavullo, and Norman Parkinson, and who had been a muse to Salvador Dalí. She had first appeared on the cover of Vogue in 1946, when she was 15. “Nobody can give you better insights into the Madoffs than Carmen,” Browne told me. “I’ll see if she’ll talk to you.” ...
Wall Street on the Tundra -- Iceland’s de facto bankruptcy—its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance—resulted from a stunning collective madness...
“Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.” ...
Can America be saved? -- So I read this:
Boehner said Americans want government to practice the same financial restraint they have been forced to exercise: “It’s time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we ‘get’ it.”and I wonder if this country can handle the crisis we’re in. Remember, John Boehner is, in effect, the second-most influential member of the GDP (after Rush Limbaugh). And while Democrats hold a majority, it’s not enough of a majority to make the minority party irrelevant.
So the fact that Boehner’s idea of economics is completely insane matters.
What’s insane about Boehner’s remark? He’s talking about the current economic crisis as if it were a harvest failure — as if we faced a shortage of goods, so that the more you consume the less is left for me. In reality — even most conservatives understand this, when they think about it — we’re in a world desperately short of demand. If you consume more, that’s GOOD for me, because it helps create jobs and raise incomes. It’s in my personal disinterest to have you tighten your belt — and that’s just as true if you’re “the government” as if you’re my neighbor...
Paradox of thrift -- The paradox states that if everyone saves more money during times of recession, then aggregate demand will fall and will in turn lower total savings in the population because of the decrease in consumption and economic growth...
Myglesias / Matthew Yglesias:
The Chamber Mobilizes — I'm probably not breaking any news …
discussion:Alec MacGillis / Washington Post: The Employee Free Choice Bill Battle Is Joined
discussion:Will Collier: Tea Party Conservatives vs. Dinner Party ConservativesMick Arran / Fact-esque: Gaming the Pundits Is Fun: Obama, Brooks, and the StimPackJennifer Rubin / Commentary: Straw Men on the MarchMichaelW / QandO: Brooks On Capitalism — David Brooks had started down the road …Prairie Weather: Or maybe he's a pod person too?Steve Benen / Washington Monthly: BROOKS' MIXED BAG.... The NYT's David Brooks explains …Jimmie / The Sundries Shack: Too Bad the 2×4 He's Using is Only MetaphoricalTodd Beeton / MyDD: Walking and Chewing Gum
What is a depression? -- It seems like the "D" word is everywhere. And that raises a question: what is a depression? Although there is no formal definition, most economists agree it is a prolonged slump with a 10% or more decline in real GDP.
Yesterday I heard an analyst say that a 10% unemployment rate is a depression. But the unemployment rate peaked at 10.8% in 1982, and that period is usually not considered a depression...
Credit Cards Will Crunch Next - Just six months ago, I estimated that at least $2 trillion of available credit-card lines would be expunged from the system by the end of 2010. However, today, that estimate now looks optimistic, as available lines were reduced by nearly $500 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone. My revised estimates are that over $2 trillion of credit-card lines will be cut inside of 2009, and $2.7 trillion by the end of 2010.
The Idiot's Guide to Destroying the Economy: a 12-Step Program — Think destroying the mighty economy of the United States is too big a job for you? Relax. Anyone can do it. A friend sent me a handy-dandy no-fuss 12-step program for wreaking financial havoc among even the world's most advanced economies....
discussion:Dow Jones Newswires: Citi Rises As Pandit Plugs ProfitDigby / Hullabaloo: Da Man — Blue America congressman Alan Grayson is over at FDL right...
- Acts That Caused the Crisis - Michael Barone, US News & World Report
- They Tried To Outsmart Wall Street - Dennis Overbye, New York Times
- Citigroup's Profit Pipe Dream - Colin Barr, Fortune
- Ease Up the Gas Pedal, Bernanke! - David Rose & Lawrence White, Forbes
- The Second Coming of the Known Unknowns - Arianna Huffington, HuffPost
- The Tsunami That Buried a Wall Street Giant - Michiko Kakutani, NYT
- Neoliberal Capitalism Is Dead, So What Next? - Robert Pollin, The Nation
- Investors Are Stashing Gold in the Basement - Lisa Miller, Newsweek
- Andrew Cuomo Investigates John Thain - Charlie Gasparino, Daily Beast
- Five Moments Gone Wrong in Economic Punditry - Daniel Murphy, Esquire
- Tim Geithner's $2 Trillion Black Hole - David Smick, Washington Post
- Tim Geithner's Big Problem - Megan McArdle, Brave New Deal
- The GOP's Unserious Economic Approach - David Brooks, New York Times
- Obama's 'Rosy' Delusions On GDP Growth - B. Wesbury & B. Stein, Forbes
- Obama Must Add Regulations to Stimulus - Thomas McCraw, New Republic
- The Economic God of the Last Three Decades Has Failed - Martin Wolf, FT
- Martin Wolf's Big Government Future - Terence Corcoran, National Post
- 'Protecting' People From Achieving - Helen Rumbelow, Times of London
- Are Equities Dead, Or Just Resting? - Chris Farrell, Business Week
- No Signs Of a Bear-Market Bounce - Tom Petruno, Los Angeles Times
- Drinking the Rating Agencies' Kool-Aid - Vanessa Drucker, Wealth Manager
- Mark-to-Market Doesn't Destruct, It Just Reveals It - John Tamny, RCM
- Housing Rescue Confronts Wall of Negatives - Caroline Baum, Bloomberg
- Where No Stimulus Has Gone Before - Steve Coll, The New Yorker
- Is the Obama White House Too Optimistic? - Tim Duy, Economist's View
- Who's To Blame for the Crisis? Congress - Lauren Tara LaCapra, TheStreet
- Dollar Defies Recipe for Currency Collapse - Ian Campbell, Telegraph