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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — April 21, 2009

Items of Interest:

FDR's New Deal a failure?The Politico:
Why Republicans are devouring one book — There aren't any sex scenes or vampires, and it won't help you lose weight. — But House Republicans are tearing through the pages of Amity Shlaes' “The Forgotten Man” like soccer moms before book club night.

Shlaes’ 2007 take on the Great Depression questions the success of the New Deal and takes issue with the value of government intervention in a major economic crisis — red meat for a party hungry for empirical evidence that the Democrats’ spending plans won’t end the current recession.

“There aren’t many books that take a negative look at the New Deal,” explained Republican policy aide Mike Ference, whose boss, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, invited Shlaes to join a group of 20 or so other House Republicans for lunch earlier this year in his Capitol suite…

Steve Benen / Washington Monthly: TELLING THEM WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR.... From time to time …
Ben Smith / Ben Smith's Blog: Al Qaeda, reckoning with Obama
Currently #27 at Amazon:

Amity Shlaes / Bloomberg:
Obama, Bush Run Up Nation’s Public Trust Deficit - How much does consumer confidence matter?

A lot, you would think, if you listened to Washington or watched the news each week. The takeaway is that the consumer is an infant tyrant who must be jollied by politicians. With Washington’s cash in hand, that consumer will then spend, leading us all to recovery.

This confidence in confidence derives partly from the established status of two confidence indexes, that of the University of Michigan and the Conference Board...
Simon Johnson / The Atlantic:
The Quiet Coup -- The 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...
David Goldman / First Things: Bankers’ Conspiracy Theories Make to the Mainstream
Tom Leonard / Daily Telegraph [UK]:
Socialism's United States Renaissance -- The s-word was once the worst thing you could call an American, but the recession has sparked a revival in its fortunes...

Even before a poll last week revealed that almost a third of young Americans now prefer it to capitalism, socialism has been enjoying something of a renaissance recently in the United States.

For decades, calling another American a socialist was about the nastiest thing you could say. Franklin Roosevelt got it all the time. But it declined in the post-Cold War era: without the commies, it just didn't sound so menacing. "Liberal" replaced it as the pejorative of choice for the political Right. Now, the "s" word is back on top again, thanks largely to huge bank bailouts and federal stimulus packages. If you can drive home the point with a "USSA – Comrade Obama" car bumper sticker, all the better...
David Brooks / New York Times:
Big-Spending Conservative — We've all heard liberal speeches on the economy. The central concern is inequality. Power and wealth tend to concentrate at the top of society, so government must stand as a countervailing power. It must defend the people against the powerful to ensure fairness and opportunity for all...
Ian / marbury: obama's cross-dressing — David Brooks, displaying his knack
The Brighter Side of High Unemployment Rates -- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.5 percent in March of 2009. Since the current recession officially started in December of 2007 just over five million people have lost their jobs, two-thirds of them in the last five months. All of us are affected by this, unemployed or not.

It’s all doom and gloom, right? Well not on all levels. While the news media focuses primarily on the negative, consider some of the positive secondary effects that come from being (f)unemployed (as some of my friends have taken to calling it). People now laid off can be employed to do other things.

Some are taking the opportunity to learn a new language. (Rosetta Stone is one of the few companies succeeding during this recession.) Others are honing their skills by going back to school, learning a new trade, taking computer courses at the local community college. And some will self start businesses. Some of America’s most successful businesses were founded during recessions...
Chill'n with Craig Ferguson and the Gangsta Puppets