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« Fun while it lasted | Main | Portrait of the artist »

Mar 09, 2009

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RBM

From Ed's link:

When Iceland changed, it was guided by a libertarian professor of political science named Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson.

Yup, more freedom and less regulation so the pigs can be more piggy !?

What a bunch of BS !

*************************

On another board in response to this story

As an Icelander I´m ashamed when I read this article.

I must though say that there are some exaggerations and inaccuracy in the article.

Our debt was in fact about 850% of GDP but not anymore. The banks are bankrupt but the Icelandic government will not pay the debt of private banks. The foreign lenders of the banks will write off a great deal of the debt. I say thank god. Iceland is not bankrupt, at least not yet. It would be ridiculous to make the Icelandic people pay the dept of crazy bankers and private banks. The right desicion was made to let them become bankrupt. The Icelandic government took over only part of the old banks to maintain some banking operations in the country.

Our debt will rightly be about 70-100% of GDP (that is a lot by the way).

The situation is bad and the unemployment rate is now about 10%. But life is still going on as normal for the most part. People are not hoarding food in large quantities and our currency "the Krona" has gained some strenght in the last few weeks.

And some good has come to Iceland due to the crisis. Politicians are afraid of the people now and some changes are being made at the moment. The constitution will be probably be changed in the next feew weeks so people can vote directly on many issues instead of the parliament. People want to make changes to make society better (less greed etc).

What is sad, is that Iceland was very rich and prosperous before the banking madness (2002-2008) due to massive resources per capita (fish and energy). But the greed of a small part of the nation made this mess. But I´m confident we will make it, mainly due to those resources.

justcorbly

People shouldn't go to jail for shooting each other. They're only being successful. Blame the cops for failing to present a counter-view.

Honest people make errors of judgment. Dishonest people lie, cheat and steal. Everyone thinks that what happened today is going to happen tomorrow, until it doesn't. People with wealth have power and often use both to the disadvantage of everyone else.

Not too hard to understand.

Beelzebubba

just: there is a "needed killing" clause in the new CHUMP(Change and Hope Under My Plan) Act. SUCKAH (Supreme Unilateral Commission for Knowing the Audacity of Hope) will be in charge of enforcing the new APDOW(Anti-Poverty Divestiture of Wealth) Act. This will stomp out all injustice, bad judgement, lying, cheating and theft. These are just a few of the programs sanctioned by PEAP. Please write these down, cut and paste, or burn them with a hot stick on the back of your eyelid for reference.

Spag

That old fiscal conservative Ed is at again. Quoting the far Left Paul Krugman almost daily, speaks in favor of nationalizing banks, glorifies alleged Left turns by noted Righties, and now throws this out there blaming liberals for not standing up to capitalism.

Just don't call him a Leftist. He discourages the use of labels (even as nearly all of the articles he posts do exactly that).

Can't have too much of that free market economy if you want to live in a Social Democracy. I don't suppose there was an in between though, was there? I know, Ed will claim his position is the in between position even as he relentlessly quotes far Leftists or assigns the cure to far Left policies.

Obama just won. I think it's okay to come out and say you are a Socialist/liberal/progressive now, Ed instead of continuing this game of denial by pretending to be a centrist.

The proof is in the posting.

Anyway, Iceland IS one of the richest countries in the world and it got that way after 18 years of conservative rule. However, where Ed goes wrong in his attempt to pin Iceland's problems on the Right is the failure to recognize that the financial crisis is worldwide and creating big problems in such Right wing wonderlands like China, Russia, and Western Europe where the last decade or so has been governed by Leftists.

But why interrupt good Leftist propaganda with facts like that?

Somehow I knew that all of the worlds financial problems were really caused by Ronald Reagan or all those damn Americans who somehow feel as though they have a right to keep what they earn and make money without the control of government.

I get it. I really do love America, I just wish it was more like Sweden because the nation we have been building here since 1776 and the ideals that made it the richest nation in the world really suck.

Beelzebubba

damned free market. humans making stuff and providing a service that some other human wants. damn them. damn them all to hell.

Spag

I really gotta work on that comma placement.

justcorbly

Sam, I read that post twice and can't find a single assertion that pertains to economics, rational or otherwise.

We are in this mess because conservatives and their conservative "greed is good" ethos shoved increasing amounts of wealth into the hands of a tiny elite with little regard for the fact that the puchasing power of the other 98 percent wasn't keeping up. As in 1929, when the bubble burst -- when the distribution of wealth based on lies and chimeras collapsed -- demand collapsed and continues to collapse.

Conservatives, then and now, worship the cult of business so much that they are unable to see the fundamental threat posed by the distortions to the free market caused by the concentration of wealth and power in increasingingly smaller circles. When rational actors step in and try to rid the market of the diseases spawned by conservatives, allowing it to return to health, they are attacked by streams of empty name-calling rhetoric.

Conservatives did this. So if you want to wave the flag, let's ask all those people who have lost careers, jobs, homes, and insurance thanks to this GOP recession. Perhaps the GOP can send them all American flags to wrap around their shoulders while they wait for their foreclosure notice and the hospital bill they can't pay. I'm sure that will make them feel all better.

Conservatives have brought nothing to the table but libel, slander, innuendo, and an unreasoned insistence that replicating the conditions of the collapse is the only way to recover from the collapse.

Your side broke it, and you can't even see the need to fix it, much less accept your responsibililty.

Conservatives did this, and have been making damn fools of themselves ever since. Americans aren't as stupid as you think.


Roch101

justcorbly, it is the tiresome allegiance to ideology... again. It is as if the ideology is itself the indisputable ultimate answer to anything and everything -- as inescapable as gravity. His rotundness brings it into focus with his recent comments at CPAC:

"Well, the one thing, and there are many, but one thing that we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas right now. I don’t want to name any names. It’s not the point. But I talk to people about the Obama budget or the Obama Porkulous bill or whatever else TARP 2 whatever it’s going to be, and they start talking to me in the terms of process and policy. I say stop it. What do you mean? Who is setting the process or policy? They are. You want to tweak it? No. This is philosophy, folks." -- Rush L.
Ed Cone

"Iceland IS one of the richest countries in the world." Not anymore, which is the point of the story. A group of free-market extremists steered it wrong. Iceland didn't just stumble into the global mess, it was a willful participant.

BusinessWeek: "The country cannot pay back its external debts, and the Icelandic currency, the krona, has become essentially valueless in the rest of the world. That means the country can no longer pay for imports."

IHT: "Iceland's gross domestic product will shrink 9.6 percent this year, the severest decline since at least World War II, and the country is now relying on an International Monetary Fund-led loan to rebuild its economy."

Sam also mocks the idea of mixed free market and "Social Democracy," apparently in ignorance of how Iceland has governed itself.

CIA factbook: "Iceland's Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system, including generous housing subsidies. Prior to the 2008 crisis, Iceland had achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a remarkably even distribution of income...The collapse of the financial system has led to a major shift in opinion in favor of joining the EU and adopting the euro."

cheripickr

Warren Buffett often quoted in this blog, not so much recently.

"On Sunday's Meet the Press, Buffett and Zuckerman called on Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional Democrats to stop using the crisis to advance their liberal agendas. "

Ed Cone

It has been ten days, so thanks for the update, which I had not seen. Reader contributions are part of this blog's value proposition.

cheripickr

From "America's best days lie ahead" to this in 10 days--not too encouraging.

Ed Cone

I don't think his outlook has changed. He's always been a big-picture guy, that's part of his Buffettness.

His longterm view is that America will prosper again. But you can't just pull that one quote and say that summed up his worldview as of ten days ago.

Immediately before professing his long-term confidence in his letter (which I once again urge people to read in full), he described a "freefall in business activity...accelerating at a pace that I have never before witnessed." Also, a "debilitating spiral."

And he was discussing the "unwelcome aftereffects" of government intervention, however necessary, and warning that "weaning [companies] from the public teat will be a political challenge. They won’t leave willingly."

RBM

@ CP

Don't doctor's take math in school ?

If you ran out of fingers and toes to count out how far ahead, maybe you could ask your patients to help out ?

Spag

This should have been posted here instead of on another thread.

"Sam, I read that post twice and can't find a single assertion that pertains to economics, rational or otherwise."

Then why did you spend the next six paragraphs making many of the same arguments that the article tries to make?

Further, it has nothing to do with "concentration of wealth and power in increasingly smaller circles". I know that class envy is your favorite theme, but it doesn't apply here. Perhaps you would find Sweden more to your liking because your daily tirades about class envy really make me wonder why the hell you stay in this God-awful capitalist country. Maybe you just like the scenery.

Anyway, I'm still waiting for you to explain how conservatives are to blame for a worldwide crisis that is happening in Communist and Socialist countries (where you really should consider moving to get around all of the class issues you have about America) as well.

Americans may not be as stupid as some people think, but you are.

Ed references "A group of free-market extremists steered it wrong." That's a little different than failing to heed the warnings of "Left wing intellectuals" now, isn't it? Is it ideological or not?

If Iceland is the Social Democracy you now claim Ed, then it begs the question as to why Iceland's problems are being blamed on the Right wing if Iceland is such a Left wing place? In fact, Ed's own CIA cite claims that Iceland has a "remarkably even distribution of income". Did that occur under the Right wing government that is now being blamed? Are you confusing being socially liberal with "Social Democracy"?

I wonder what Ed's thoughts on Social Democracy are. Maybe he will tell us.

It certainly appears that some people are trying to have it both ways by claiming that Iceland is ruled by Right wingers who are responsible for the crisis, but is really a Left wing Social Democracy filled with all of the benefits that American Socialists want to see here. Maybe the problem is the Social Democracy that Ed says exists there. Or maybe it is really just about greed and not ideology, and thus has nothing to do with "Left wing intellectuals".

Maybe Ed can tell us what he thinks the problem in Iceland is and relate it to the quote in his post.

Then again, maybe not.

winstongator

In a mere seven years since bank deregulation and privatisation, Iceland's financial institutions had managed to rack up $75bn of foreign debt. I don't believe it impossible to have a Social Democracy and a completely unregulated financial system. Financial deregulation contributed to problems here and everywhere. How hard is it to comprehend that Social Democracy can coexist with an unregulated financial system...for a time.

Ed Cone

Sam, you're bouncing all over the place.

The description of Iceland from the CIA factbook: "Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system, including generous housing subsidies. Prior to the 2008 crisis, Iceland had achieved high growth, low unemployment, and a remarkably even distribution of income."

Here we see two things: a description of Iceland's Scandinavian-style economy, which persists despite years of free-market reforms, and a statement that something happened to disrupt it.

What disrupted it was a concerted effort to become an international banking powerhouse. Too much leverage, too little oversight, and then disaster.

I'd say the free-market reforms of the last two decades were good things, until they became the stuff of belief instead of analysis, and blew up the Icelandic economy. I don't see anyone criticizing market economies, in Iceland or elsewhere, just the naive and ultimately destructive practices that blew things up.

The point of the quote from Gissurarson is that it's funny, and sad, to see someone who seems to have learned nothing from disaster, and who blames (perhaps ironically) anyone but himself.

winstongator

Economic spectrum
Far-right - no regulation at all, the the market handle everything
right - very limited regulation, little/no regulation of banks
center - government has extensive regulation of private businesses
left - govt control of some business mixed w/some private businesses
far-left - govt ownership of companies

It is possible to hold some liberal views, legalizing marijuana, abortion & same-sex marriage, but still hold conservative economic views - isn't that the classic libertarian position?

I don't like the government owning Fannie, Freddie, AIG, and giving huge sums to the largest banks, but I also didn't want those institutions to take such excessive risks, and them all to take the SAME risk, so that when the impossible happened - housing prices across the US fell - systemic risk just fell into our laps.

winstongator

There are many democrats who pushed deregulation - Bob Rubin for starters. The issue of financial regulation is can be treated completely independent of levels of taxation or social benefits. You can deregulate, and raise taxes and increase social benefits. Or you can regulate tightly, adjust benefits as circumstances change, and adjust taxes in a Kenysian sense to smooth business cycles.

Spag

WG: "center - government has extensive regulation of private businesses". Not the center. That is Left of center. Drop the word "extensive" and you may be on to something.

Next you conflate "Social Democracy" which actually does mean something that is inconsistent with free markets, with libertarianism.

Ed, you are the one bouncing around. "Iceland's Scandinavian-style economy" as you describe it does not equate to a Social Democracy any more that Johnson's Great Society does.

Then you say "What disrupted it was a concerted effort to become an international banking powerhouse. Too much leverage, too little oversight, and then disaster." But that isn't what your initial post really claimed. It essentially rehashed the claim that it was the Left's fault for not policing the free market, the implication being that Left wing intellectuals would have fixed the problem. You injected ideology into the mix, and now you are retreating to a different position where the problem was just about the proper level of regulation. This is exactly what I meant when I wrote:

"Can't have too much of that free market economy if you want to live in a Social Democracy. I don't suppose there was an in between though, was there? I know, Ed will claim his position is the in between position even as he relentlessly quotes far Leftists or assigns the cure to far Left policies."

Ed Cone

Sam, the quote is from a guy who is ducking responsibility for helping lead his country to disaster.

There is no "implication that left wing intellectuals would have fixed the problem."

He gave horrible advice, and he's trying to shift the blame. He might as well have blamed ice elves. Anyone but him.

You introduced the term "social democracy" to this thread. You then say Iceland's Scandinavian-style economy (the CIA's description, not mine, by the way) "does not equate to a Social Democracy."

But the dictionary defines social democracy as "a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices," which fits Iceland (CIA: "Scandinavian-type social-market economy combines a capitalist structure and free-market principles with an extensive welfare system, including generous housing subsidies") pretty well.

As far as common usage, Brittanica says, "Iceland is a social democracy." The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Scandinavian Culture says, "Perhaps the most striking characteristic of Scandinavian politics since 1945 has been the strength and influence of social democracy." And so on.

So I'm not sure what you're saying. And clearly, neither are you.

Spag

Remind me to consult a dictionary the next time I try to explain a political ideology. Using that application, the United States is a "Social Democracy" merely because we have elements of a welfare state. Hence my reference to the Great Society.

Further, the article from the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Scandinavian Culture that you cite references Denmark, Norway and Sweden with regard to the "strength and influence" quote you used. If you read further, the article claims "Social democratic parties in Finland and Iceland have been rather less influential..."

Regardless, you (Ed) completely missed the point about my usage of the term in this thread. I used it to demonstrate what I see as a false choice between a Left wing statist solution and a free market. I will quote myself again ""Can't have too much of that free market economy if you want to live in a Social Democracy. I don't suppose there was an in between though, was there?"

You also might want to tell justcorbly that your post wasn't about the Left getting it right had they been given the opportunity.

winstongator

People are not advocating a statist solution - you're imagining that. People are advocating short term intervention, which we have already seen huge amounts of, beginning in the US with Bear, but the UK nationalized Northern Rock a month earlier. People see a clear path from deregulation to our current crisis, with Iceland as an extreme example. Strengthening regulation needs to be a worldwide concerted policy goal - if loosely regulated overseas banks operate in the US it will make it harder for our banks to compete.

The role of regulation is only respected when you see what not having it brings.
The banking sector needs more extensive regulation, and strengthening regulation from where it is today is a centrist idea.

You can think terms mean whatever you want, but 15 seconds with wikipedia says,

"more moderate positions, which came to characterize modern social democracy. These positions often include support for a democratic welfare state which incorporates elements of both socialism and capitalism, sometimes termed the mixed economy."

Uh, could you see the quotation marks? It wasn't Ed that blamed the Left, but Gissurarson. From what I wrote, it is not left wing vs. right wing in the spagalicious sense, but a pro-regulation anti-regulation. One of Keynes's main insights is that gov't should use taxing and spending to smooth the business cycle: higher taxes, less spending during good times, and lower taxes, more spending during bad times. Save up during good times and use that savings during tough times - good advice at all levels: national, corporate, family. The insight is that it is the opposite to what people actually do. During the 'good' times of the 00's, people saved LESS, making today's situation worse.

Spag

It wasn't just during the "good" times of the 00's although that would be convenient because that just so happens to coincide with the election of George W. Bush.

"It wasn't Ed that blamed the Left, but Gissurarson".

Of course, when you link to someone else all the time, you can maintain plausible denial.

Given Ed's track record, the post indicated to me that Ed was back to his game that he has employed several times over the past few weeks of taking conservatives and presenting them as having seen the light and moved to the Left.

winstongator

Since the link was to only an abstract, it took me like a minute to find

Seeing things through such tinted glasses makes seeing what is actually there harder.

winstongator

While the rate started declining in the 80's: http://heyna.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/savings_rate.gif
it only zeroed out in 2005. Many people were saying saving isn't important because assets values were rising so fast that it more than made up for a lower saving rate. Recent history has shown that to be false.

winstongator

html typo in 9:25 comment. link should go with this quote - He [Gissuarson] went on, "Indirectly, I take some blame for it, but, if you think about it, it's not my fault. It's the fault of the left-wing intellectuals, who should have been giving a counter-view!" The is obviously not the quote of someone moving to the left, but someone clinging to anti-regulation dogma.

Spag

Just the other day I heard Obama talking about how banks needed more capital so they could make loans so the public would spend again.

No mention of saving.

As for your quote, to me it reads "the Left was right and they should have been louder in asserting that".

cheripickr

"I'd say the free-market reforms of the last two decades were good things, until they became the stuff of belief instead of analysis, and blew up the Icelandic economy."

So Ed, how many threads did you post in praise of the Iceland's advances during those two decades, not knowing it was going to blow up, or did you see it coming, and issue warnings?

It is both amazing and pathetic to me how the left will sit back and hold its collective nose and painfully endure two-plus decades of free-market prosperity and accompanying advancements, then emerge triumphantly during the inevitable one to three year recessions/crashes as their I-told-you-so vindication that the system is an inherent failure. All flawlessly predicted after the fact, with the exception of those who predict it continuously. They seem to feed and thrive off of others' failures. they sure as HELL love to point them out.

All the progress that improved people's lives in this three steps forward, one step back cycle of free market economies is irrelevant and ignored, as is any objective long-term comparison to the historic track record of more socialist societies. I don't claim to know whether Icelanders’ standard of living is overall better than it was twenty years ago, but I think I could make a pretty good guess.

A comment made by a wise man who has been banned from this site summed it up nicely, in explaining Ed's fiercely defended idolatry of his ideologic mentor Paul Krugman "...after all, he did predict eight of the last two recessions."

Spag

CP, whether there really was/is a failure of free market economics isn't really the issue. The real issue is how many people you can convince that free market economics have failed.

It serves two purposes. First, it advances Left wing big government collectivism. Second, it deflects any blame for the crisis away from Left wing policies.

Witness how not one person yet has explained how free market economics are responsible for the current economic problems in China, Russia, France, and a whole host of other highly regulated, redistributive nations.

Bubba is right, too.

confused

"Witness how not one person yet has explained how free market economics are responsible for the current economic problems in China, Russia, France, and a whole host of other highly regulated, redistributive nations."

"As I noted on this page in December 2007, the presumptive cause of the world-wide decline in long-term rates was the tectonic shift in the early 1990s by much of the developing world from heavy emphasis on central planning to increasingly dynamic, export-led market competition. The result was a surge in growth in China and a large number of other emerging market economies that led to an excess of global intended savings relative to intended capital investment."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123672965066989281.html


They're selling us stuff, and when we stop buying -- they hurt.

Russia = commodities, so when oil goes down, so does Russia. It is out of their control.


winstongator

You guys need to take off your glasses and open your eyes. No one is decrying free markets, but the stripping of regulations that help to limit the excesses of free markets. Take the repeal of Glass-Stegall in the late 90's, and the SEC's decision in 2004 to allow I-banks to dramatically increase their leverage and create billions of dollars.

"I don't believe it impossible to have a Social Democracy and a completely unregulated financial system." 5PM yesterday. China's central bank bought Fannie & Freddie securities to keep the Yuan trading where it was, under the assumption that everyone had, that they had the backing of the US govt. Fixed exchange rate policies are not free-market, and they contributed to the housing bubble and thus this recession.

Gissuarson seems not to see the problem with taking deregulation too far. Shoot, maybe he's right and we should get rid of banks having to pay for FDIC insurance and those pesky asset to liability ratios. If you let a bank operate when it's insolvent, you don't have to provide it with bailout money, you just have to hope that its debtholders & depositors don't ask for their money too soon.

CP - bubbles are not productive. They shift capital from useful points to the bubble assets. This undermines capitalism's benefit of efficient capital allocation. Bubble economics is different than generally accepted growth/contraction business cycles.

Billy The Blogging Poet

You know, I don't know what I'm going to do for entertainment when all of you can no longer afford the cost of remaining online and arguing on Ed's blog. I mean, TV sucks and Rush on the radio blows so what else is there?

New class start-up: How to liberally brew whiskey to sell to conservatives and why jacking the price up to 5 or more times the price of your competitors will make conservatives quicker to buy your swill.

Ed Cone

Sam, the fact that people like Greenspan and Graham are endorsing the possibility of further state intervention in the banking system is, well, a fact. I don't think they're really left-wing kooks, or even necessarily moving left in some larger context. That's what makes calling them "left wing kooks" so darn funny! It is interesting to see how dogma fares in a storm, and important to see if some political and economic consensus emerges around a core element of this crisis.

In this thread, you applied your misunderstanding of those earlier posts to a don't-blame-me quote from an exposed huckster, and then missed the irony there, too. Stop and think before charging ahead, and you will bang your head against fewer walls.

CP, I'm mystified by your argument that examining the wreckage of the global economy in order to understand the causes of the wreck is a bad thing. If you think what we just saw was the normal functioning of a healthy system, we disagree. Recessions are fairly regular occurrences, but this is no ordinary recession.

As I said, I would guess that many of the free-market reforms of the past couple of decades were good for Iceland. That doesn't mean the reckless charge into international banking that blew up the economy was a good thing, too. Understanding why the wheels came off doesn't mean you hate wheels.

cheripickr


"CP, I'm mystified by your argument that examining the wreckage.... “

Except I never see any examining. I see politically opportunistic criticism, rarely of the constructive type. You do this with the clarity and certainty that only hindsight can give and with the most blatant of double standards. Most of the time you do it with other people's words, usually other journalists, to whom , as fellow critics and opinionators, you attach WAY too much societal importance to, whether they be your heros (Krugman) or villains (Kudlow). You do it without offering any constructive solutions of your own (excepting the occasional linked ones) , and you do it nearly exclusively to conservatives, while claiming the banner of pragmatist in a sea of label-hurling, slogan-shouting ideologues.

You and your kindred take few risks yourselves, yet are always at the ready to pounce on the first missteps of ideologically opposed people who do. You seem to to use people's "wrongness" as a platform to show how "right" you are. because you certainly don't demonstrate it through your own offered solutions, predictions, etc (that would be risky). What does that contribute to anything? You come across as an expert with a masters in the fields of hindsight and web searching, and I just don't find that very useful on this play stage where we all gather to pretend we are solving the world's problems.

I'm glad for your own sake that you see it differently, and since this is all pretend, I assume that you probably neither see yourself as infallible as you act in here, nor are as sharply and vocally critical of others' failings in real life.

Spag

"It is interesting to see how dogma fares in a storm, and important to see if some political and economic consensus emerges around a core element of this crisis."

But only what you consider conservative "dogma". But wait, you weren't talking about "dogma", right? None of the people you cite ever claimed that there should be no regulation at all, so I don't see how "dogma" becomes the real issue. No what you tried to pose are the absolutes that you claim to disregard. That is to imply that there is no middle ground and anyone on the Right who strays the least bit from being a 100% anarchist free marketeer must be seeing the light and moving to the extreme opposite. Otherwise, where is the irony at all, Ed?

CP, that was beautiful. What a coda.

winstongator

Many people were discussing the housing bubble while it was still inflating. It would have been hard to pin down exactly what could have been done when, but not increaseing the leverage ratios at investment banks that were underwriting & holding MBS's would have been a start. But many others claimed there was no housing bubble, and that the problems of it deflating would be minimal. You seem to treat them the same, that there were no underlying factors worth discussing. Keep your head in the sand.

You guys see what you want to see. The dogma was reducing regulation is always good - which many people disagreed with at the time and history has shown to be false.

CP - your wise man claimed that 'subprime's contained', 'subprime is a small part of the mortgage market', and infamously, 'it's just shorts covering. Once we work through that, the correction will be over.'

Ed Cone

CP, we are now in the post-crash environment. Looking backward at its causes is the only possible way of looking at its causes.

Even (or especially) people who didn't comment on the possible problems at the time should be considering those issues now. Many people did comment on the possible problems at the time; I did, but not as much as I should have.

Possible solutions are discussed here. Among them: smarter regulation, better tax policy, and less-credulous media. You may disagree with some or all of these ideas, but they are in the mix.

In my view, a great deal of the damage to the market economy was caused by the absolutist mindset trumpeted by the Kudlows of the world, which even Greenspan now has publicly recanted. There are many villains in this story of systemic failure, from across the political spectrum, as I've said at this blog and in my newspaper column. I can't change the party affiliations of the miscreants. Cramer is a Democrat, btw.

If you want to argue that Kudlow is as credible as Krugman on the economy, have at it. I think the evidence shows otherwise, decisively. If you want to argue in favor of the policies of the Bush administration and the current GOP leadership and the Clinton admin deregulators, be my guest. I'm listening. But I'm not required to agree with you.

"You and your kindred take few risks yourselves." I'm not sure what this means, but I don't understand the level of personal invective you bring to this site.

cheripickr

"If you want to argue that Kudlow is as credible as Krugman on the economy, have at it."

In completely missing my point of those two examples, you are making it again. The point is that neither of them is anywhere near as instrumental as you want to make them out to be, good or bad. They mainly observe and comment on the world around them. Arguing their relative credibility solves none of our nations problems. Hell, you don't even see Obama or Congress playing those blame games. I could care less which one's more credible on the economy if they are not charged with running it nor make any major impact on it through goods or services they provide. They are not the engine that moves, shapes or transforms society. That is only in the world as viewed through a computer or TV screen, if that is the lens you choose. I don't.

""You and your kindred take few risks yourselves."
I'm not sure what this means, but I don't understand the level of personal invective you bring to this site."

Nothing personal intended in that observation, any more so than blaming an economic bubble on a loudmouth commentator or calling someone batshit crazy. I will refrain from any level of commentary that you consider personal, however, with the caveat that I might not always recognize it.

Spag

"I will refrain from any level of commentary that you consider personal, however, with the caveat that I might not always recognize it."

Trust me, Ed will recognize it when you do it to him, not so much when he does it to you.

My first exchange with Ed was civil. Then Ed got snarky, and it's been downhill ever since. Funny thing is, I get blamed. Gotta love this place.

Ed Cone

CP, it's fine if you think commenting about economists and pundits is a waste of time. I disagree, as I've tried to explain, and am likely to continue in a similar vein.

Comments are open, you can say what you will. I asked you about a cryptic remark. If you choose not to explain, that's fine, too.

Spag

I just wish Ed would come out and say that he wants America to become a Social Democracy. But I suspect that he may want to run for office some time and knows that such an admission won't fly in this area- or most of the rest of America either.

Hence the game of plausible denial, implication rather than directness, choosing particular points of view to harass and ridicule while ignoring others, rejecting labels and categorization even as he labels and categorizes others by finding anti-conservative, pro-Left stories "interesting" and "useful" while ignoring pro-conservative, anti-Left stories, accusing others of dividing the world into Left vs. Right while he does exactly the same thing in his selection of topics and the people he finds worthy of praise and those worthy of sarcastic dismissal.

I don't expect Ed to be even handed. Nobody is, especially on an opinion blog. I just wish he would admit where he is coming from, what he believes in, that he has an agenda, and to recognize that his political positions do have a label that accurately describes them instead of this charade that he isn't a duck even though he quacks like one.

cheripickr

EC, you didn’t exactly ask me a question, thus I didn’t answer one.. However, your injection of the “personal” aspect into the discussion has gotten me somewhat self-conscious and vaguely remorseful and guilt-riddled regarding the possible content or tone of my posts. In looking up the definition of “invective”, what you are apparently asking is why I find it necessary to use (personal) “abusive language” in my arguments.

This raises an important and more general question: At what point does criticism become personal or abusive? In wondering whether my specific statement in question crossed that line, it occurred to me what a broad range of degrees of contentiousness we have available to us through which to express our disagreements.

Along that spectrum, to use an example, we could start at one end with “I disagree” followed by ”That’s not true” then ”You’re deliberately distorting the truth” to “That’s a lie” and finally ”You’re a liar”. I think most reasonable people would conclude that the first example would not, whereas the second example would, constitute “personal invective”.

In trying to gauge the abusiveness of my statement about taking few risks, I was immediately reminded of my 13 year old daughter, who is the most risk-averse kid I have ever met. We tease her about it, and I really just consider it a characterization, but on some level it is a criticism, and I do try to impress upon her that in shielding herself from failure, she might also deprive herself of some of life’s most enriching experiences. I don’t see it as abusive,or as a personal condemnation though, and I don't believe she does either.

I don’t really see any huge differences to preclude applying the same barometer to my statement to you. So I really don’t think it was a particularly personal or abusive comment, especially in the context of the often testy vernacular that seems to be for the most part accepted in here.

So can I also ask your perspective as well, as someone who (along with many others) serves up unsolicited criticism on a daily basis, on where you would draw the line between “critical” and “personal”? I don’t claim to have it nailed down myself, other than the extremes, i.e. for me, stating someone is risk averse doesn’t cross the line, but repeatedly calling someone a liar does. I hope that helps clarify my comment, and I apologize if you found it abusive or hurtful. You once made some vow about respecting my “sensitivities” and maybe I need to work harder to do the same.

Ed Cone

CP, I simply don't know what risks my kindred and I are supposedly averse to. I don't even know who my kindred are. Perhaps it was not meant unkindly. Perhaps I would agree with it.

I've called precisely one person a liar, and that's the person who posted false and defamatory comments about me at two local websites. Perhaps if someone lied about you and your work in public, you would take a different approach.

Different people express themselves differently, and a person's web persona may be different from their real-world personality.

You dislike link-and-run blogging. I like that format, and it's also the only one I can sustain here; my reporting and long-form opinion muscles are exercised by my day job and newspaper column.

Beyond that, I have found that your comments often focus on my alleged bad faith and shoddy methods and assumed motives, rather than the subjects of the posts themselves. To me, you seem more interested in argument than conversation. Which is fine. We all make choices.

Spag

"I've called precisely one person a liar, and that's the person who posted false and defamatory comments about me at two local websites."

Ed doesn't take obvious sarcasm directed at him very well, so he calls people liars. He also doesn't understand the word "defamatory". For example, if one is a lawyer in good standing with the State Bar and an arrogant blogger implies that said lawyer has been disbarred, that is defamatory per se under the law. It is defamatory because a disbarment means that the lawyer is unethical and not fit to perform his job. Said lawyer could sue said blogger if said lawyer wanted to and all said lawyer would have to prove is that the statement was made and was published. Said lawyer doesn't even have to prove actual damages.

Contrast that with offering an opinion that one must not have a "real" job that requires work in the normal sense because they seem to have a lot of leisure time. That is not a comment on a person's fitness or professional abilities to their job and as such is not defamatory. Opinions are never defamatory.

Regardless, there were no lies told about Ed Cone by said lawyer.

Ed Cone

Lying Sam Spagnola, lying about the lies he told.

cheripickr

If a liar lies about his lies, does that cancel them out?

Spag

Really Ed? Prove it. I never lied about you. I did say that I didn't know if you had a "real" job because I haven't seen an article written by you for Ziff in a few years and you seemed to have an awful lot of leisure time which made me question what you actually did all day long.

That wasn't a lie, it was an observation.

What pissed you off was when I mentioned that you were probably living off a trust fund while pontificating to others who actually worked for a living about the injustices of the world.

It wasn't a lie, it was sarcasm. Must have hit too close to home.

Thomas

Remind me again, what was the topic here?

Ed Cone

As I have said before, describing the false and defamatory comments of Greensboro attorney Sam Spagnola as "lies" gives him the benefit of the doubt, as it implies some degree of agency on his part.

The alternative -- that he lacks the ability to ascertain simple facts -- is too sad to contemplate.

Greensboro attorney Samuel Spagnola, of the Spagnola Law Firm, published false and defamatory statements about me. He claims his misstatements about my employment were due to a lack of information.

Information about my employment is available at my employer site and at this blog. Spagnola admits to reading current information about my job status, but decided to publish contradictory information anyway, without verification from me or my employer.

Spagnola says he has not seen recent articles by me, although the top story on the author page of this blog is recent, and was discussed several times this fall at this blog. A link to the blog I write for my employer is on the front page of this site.

This is beyond boring. I'm sorry CP brought it up again.

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