Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Thus, all of the main elements of the financial crisis were policy-driven, because of self-defeating housing policy and bank capital policy," says Arnold Kling. One of his recommendations for the future:
If we have backup systems and business continuity plans in place, then we should be able to continue ordinary financial transactions regardless of whether a particular bank stays in business or not. If we had a business continuity strategy, then allowing a bank to fail would be a credible and viable option for regulators.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The commanding heights are being lost.

The government is financing 9 out of 10 new mortgages in the United States. If you buy a car from General Motors, you are buying from a company that is 60 percent owned by the government. If you take out a car loan or run up your credit card, the chances are good that the government is financing both your debt and that of your bank. And if you buy life insurance from the American International Group, you will be buying from a company that is almost 80 percent federally owned....

I'm really tired of Republicans complaining about Barack Obama's plan for socialism. We have socialism. The American government owns a car company and an insurance company. It's responsible for putting up capital so the construction and real estate industries stay afloat.

Let's not forget higher education:
The Obama plan calls for the U.S. Department of Education to move from its current 20% share of the student-loan origination market to 80% on July 1, 2010, when private lenders will be barred from making government-guaranteed loans....

Discussion among university administrators I know has centered on how to diversify revenue streams on the assumption that the federal government will try to control costs at the universities...

a federal government directly paying the bills for student education might start intervening not just in cost questions - price controls - but forms of "educational industrial policy."

And of course, health care. Whatever the future holds, much is already rotten:
One disturbing portent came over the summer when it was reported that the Obama administration had promised deals to doctors and to pharmaceutical companies under the condition that they publicly support health care reform. That’s another example of creating favored beneficiaries through politics.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The inaugural issue of National Affairs, which aspires to succeed the late, great The Public Interest, has many articles available online. Example article: The evolution of divorce. The introductory material about the 70s is unsurprising:
Prior to the late 1960s, Americans were more likely to look at marriage and family through the prisms of duty, obligation, and sacrifice. A successful, happy home was one in which intimacy was an important good, but by no means the only one in view. A decent job, a well-maintained home, mutual spousal aid, child-rearing, and shared religious faith were seen almost universally as the goods that marriage and family life were intended to advance.

But the psychological revolution's focus on individual fulfillment and personal growth changed all that. Increasingly, marriage was seen as a vehicle for a self-oriented ethic of romance, intimacy, and fulfillment. In this new psychological approach to married life, one's primary obligation was not to one's family but to one's self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one's spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage — usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one's spouse.

On the other hand, the trends of subsequent decades are probably less widely known:
The figures are quite striking: College-educated Americans have seen their divorce rates drop by about 30% since the early 1980s, whereas Americans without college degrees have seen their divorce rates increase by about 6%. Just under a quarter of college-educated couples who married in the early 1970s divorced in their first ten years of marriage, compared to 34% of their less-educated peers. Twenty years later, only 17% of college-­educated couples who married in the early 1990s divorced in their first ten years of marriage; 36% of less-educated couples who married in the early 1990s, however, divorced sometime in their first decade of marriage.
Not from The Onion, Texas edition: We need fewer reports, finds report. (HT: MR.)

Sunday, September 06, 2009