201002.28
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Theater of the Absurd

Most of the press attention in Washington DC last week was on the healthcare reform revival meeting convened at Blair House on Thursday and for good reason – it was so long it stretched across several news cycles. The summit was convened by President Obama allegedly to see if a bipartisan approach to healthcare reform could…

201002.27
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Nothing to See Here…Move Along

From the Washington Post: The House ethics committee ruled Friday that seven lawmakers who steered hundreds of millions of dollars in largely no-bid contracts to clients of a lobbying firm had not violated any rules or laws by also collecting large campaign donations from those contractors. In a 305-page report, the ethics committee declared that…

201002.26
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Weekly Economic Review

The economic data this week continued the pattern that has dominated for months now – manufacturing strong, real estate and consumer weak. The recovery from this recession has been a more traditional inventory cycle recovery. Whether it morphs into something that is sustainable beyond restocking is the $64 question and one for which we don’t…

201002.22
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The Poverty of Stimulus

From an article by Bradford Cornell at Project Syndicate: Given the central role of financial intermediation in the current crisis, the government should instead expedite the restructuring process through bankruptcy law. The key is to accept bad news: losses must be recognized before efficient realignment can occur. This suggests the following solution to the banking…

201002.22
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Unintended Consequences?

Raising the minimum wage causes a rise in youth unemployment which means fewer young healthy people in the health insurance pool which leads to higher health insurance premiums which causes public outrage and leads to health insurance price controls which reduces the number of insurance companies offering coverage which produces more bargaining power on behalf of the remaining health insurance companies which leads to lower incomes for doctors which leads…

201002.22
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Commercial Real Estate Rises

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) — U.S. commercial property values had their biggest monthly rise on record in December as the number of transactions jumped, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Index climbed 4.1 percent from November, the second straight monthly increase, Moody’s said today in a report. Transaction volume rose more than…

201002.21
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The Beginning of the End of Easing

The Federal Reserve raised the Discount Rate Thursday evening after the close of New York trading and the Tout TV crew immediately shifted into Oh My God! mode. Maria Bartiromo was in a tizzy trying to figure out what it all meant (as if there was any chance of that), the S&P futures traded down…

201002.18
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Stimulus PR

President Obama held a press conference yesterday to tout the “success” of the stimulus program on its one year anniversary. The administration has dispatched surrogates around the country to do the same (via Reuters): Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched a sweeping effort to convince skeptical Americans that the stimulus has been beneficial on…

201002.17
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Keynes on Inflation

From friend of Alhambra John Chapman: Keynes’ 1936 book is full of some horrible errors from which we have yet to recover.  But his earlier writings, which he unfortunately later repudiated, were in many cases quite good.  His Treatise on Money (1930) is very good in many ways but he changed his mind on things…

201002.16
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Sentiment Turns Negative Quickly

Sentiment toward the stock market turned negative very quickly in the correction (via Marketwatch): Consider the average recommended equity exposure among a subset of short-term stock market timers tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest (as measured by the Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index, or HSNSI). It stands currently at just 20.3%, down from 65.2% in…