Man on the Spot #25: Big banks, “An Industry of Mediocrity” and detainee rights

Posted by on December 29, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Image: Cook Istlands, Wikipedia Commons

Image: Cook Istlands, Wikipedia Commons

It’s Hard to Summon Sympathy for Big Banks
Published: December 12, 2013

Speaking at a banking industry conference last month in New York, Mr. Lynch recalled that he had been working at Morgan Stanley in London before he returned to this country in 2011 to join Bank of America. He had thought, he said, that by then — three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off the financial crisis — anger at banks would have declined.
He was wrong: “It was worse.”

Billionaires’ Row and Welfare Lines
Published: By CHARLES M. BLOW
October 25, 2013

Median household income continues to fall, according to recent data from the Census Bureau. The data showed, “In 2012, real median household income was 8.3 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.”

Surprise in a Matchup of Presidential Stock Portfolios
It turns out the Obama portfolio has beaten the stock market by more than two to one. Since the publication of the report through Tuesday, it gained 57.8 percent compared with 26.2 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. (Mr. Costelloe assumed that each portfolio was made up of 100 shares of each of the stocks in it.) The Romney portfolio’s rise was 32.2 percent.

“Wake up the Banking Police”
By Gretchen Morgenson //New York Times

‘An Industry of Mediocrity’
Published: October 20, 2013
But universities have proved largely immutable. Educators, including some inside these institutions, say universities have treated education programs as “cash cows.” The schools see no incentive to change because they have plenty of applicants willing to pay full tuition, the programs are relatively cheap to run, and they are accountable to no one except accrediting agencies run by, you guessed it, education schools. It’s a contented cartel.

Roger_CohenThe Handyüberwachung Disaster
Published: October 24, 2013
But all Europe is. The perception here is of a United States where security has trumped liberty, intelligence agencies run amok (vacuuming up data of friend and foe alike), and the once-admired “checks and balances” built into American governance and studied by European schoolchildren have become, at best, secret reviews of secret activities where opposing arguments get no hearing.

GhailaniFormer Detainee’s Right to Speedy Trial Wasn’t Violated, Appeals Panel Rules
By BENJAMIN WEISER nytimes 10/25/13
Mr. Ghailani’s lawyer, Peter E. Quijano, said his client would seek an appeal to the Supreme Court. “The government did not act expeditiously to afford Ahmed Ghailani a trial after subjecting him to enhanced interrogation techniques and then forcing him to languish for years at Guantánamo Bay,” Mr. Quijano said by e-mail.

In Search of Republican Grown-Ups
Published: October 24, 2013
Mr. Hatch and other establishment senators believe that grown-ups would not threaten the country’s full faith and credit, or keep the government closed, in order to get their way. That’s true, but it’s a rather pallid definition of maturity. A mature and responsible political party would do more than prevent a government default; it would offer serious solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems instead of running from them.

Mandela’s Unfinished Revolution
Published: December 13, 2013
I cannot help but think that despite Mr. Mandela’s political genius, he was blindsided by three things: the greed of many of his comrades in the A.N.C., the staunch resistance of many white people and the private sector to his party’s economic reforms, and the power of global capitalism to turn political radicals into orthodox, if not complacent, “reformers.”

We Are Not All in This Together
In the postwar period the rich found themselves in a quandary. Their wages and their membership were static. They needed to resuscitate themselves. This required allies who shared a basic concern. The rich thought, not incorrectly, that high tax rates were handicapping their capacity to advance. And they found common ground with suburbanites who didn’t see social spending as something that enhanced their lives and neighborhoods, but as something that transferred their tax dollars to a different kind of American — urban, of a notably darker hue — who had only recently gained political legitimacy. Through a tax revolt these groups went to work dismantling social programs.

Cook Islands, a Paradise of Untouchable Assets
Published: December 14, 2013
Lawyers drumming up business say they have found just the place: the Cook Islands. And, thanks to a recently released trove of documents, it’s become clear that hundreds of wealthy people have stashed their money there, including a felon who ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme and the doctor who lost his license in the Octomom case.

paul_krugman1OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Biggest Losers
Published: December 12, 2013
There are three things you need to know about these harsh cuts.
First, they were unnecessary. The Washington establishment may have hyperventilated about debt and deficits, but markets have never shown any concern at all about U.S. creditworthiness. In fact, borrowing costs have stayed at near-record lows throughout.

Jobless Fear Looming Cutoff of Benefits
Published: December 12, 2013

“Christmas is just a hurdle to get through,” he said. “I don’t want to call it a stressor, but it’s just one of those things where you have to put on your best smile and get through it and try to focus on the positive.”
For job seekers like Ms. Gillespie and Mr. Iverson, the labor market remains punishing even though the economy has been on a modest upswing for more than four years. The hiring rate has scarcely increased, and competition for positions remains fierce. The unemployment rate has come down mostly because workers are dropping out of the labor force, and businesses are no longer letting large numbers of workers go.

The Shanghai Secret
Published: October 22, 2013
SHANGHAI — Whenever I visit China, I am struck by the sharply divergent predictions of its future one hears. Lately, a number of global investors have been “shorting” China, betting that someday soon its powerful economic engine will sputter, as the real estate boom here turns to a bust. Frankly, if I were shorting China today, it would not be because of the real estate bubble, but because of the pollution bubble that is increasingly enveloping some of its biggest cities. Optimists take another view: that, buckle in, China is just getting started, and that what we’re now about to see is the payoff from China’s 30 years of investment in infrastructure and education. I’m not a gambler, so I’ll just watch this from the sidelines. But if you’re looking for evidence as to why the optimistic bet isn’t totally crazy, you might want to visit a Shanghai elementary school.

The Cry of the True Republican
Published: October 22, 2013

Watching the Republican Party use the full faith and credit of the United States to try to roll back Obamacare, watching its members threaten not to raise the debt limit — which Warren Buffett rightly called a “political weapon of mass destruction” — to repeal a tax on medical devices, I so wanted to ask a similar question: “Have you no sense of responsibility? At long last, have you left no sense of responsibility?”

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