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  • How to Fix the Foreclosure Crisis: A Real BailoutGovernment, Mortgages, Blog, Personal Finance

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    We need a real bailout, because the last one relied on a bad theory — namely: horse-and-sparrow “trickle-down” economics. Why do we need a real bailout? The first one was a corporate give-away. And it seems now like the only thing that trickled down from the interventions of 2008-9 was further economic distress, which is now manifesting itself quite possibly as double-dip recession. Anyone born before 1975 remembers “trickle-down economics.” It’s a very simple idea […]

  • Consumers Be Damned: Senator Shelby, Captain Queeg and the Politics of NoGovernment, Politics, Blog, Personal Finance

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    Last week’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau featured prepared speeches that were utterly without sound and fury but still managed to do a huge disservice to American consumers. It felt like a really bad Capitol Hill reality show, devoid of all emotion, featuring actors who made Snooki and the Situation seem like “clean” coal shills at a global warming conference. Confirmation hearings are […]

  • Freddie and Fannie — Has Everyone Gone Postal?Government, Mortgages, Politics, Blog, Money

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    Between Freddie and Fannie’s latest woes and the United States Postal Service teetering on collapse, it’s been a bad week or so for quasi-governmental agencies. Late last week the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that it was facing a shortfall of approximately $5.5 billion in terms of its obligations in the month of September, and that without Congressional action it might have to cease operations entirely during the winter of 2011. In a week […]

  • Homeowners

    Medication for Middle-Class Mortgage ManiaMortgages, Blog, Money

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    Everything old is new again…. Between 1634 and 1637, tulips became all the rage in Holland. The record of exactly what happened is sketchy and perhaps apocryphal in part, but at one point a particular kind of tulip bulb could be traded in the marketplace for about 12 acres of land. This is one reason why the history of this phenomenon is often labeled the “tulip mania.” In America between 2005 and 2008, real estate […]

  • $2 a Gallon Gas, Michele Bachmann? Aim Higher.Government, Blog

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    Big city-dwellers notwithstanding, American consumers may purchase gasoline more frequently than any other item. In fact, according to a 2009 Nilson report, when it comes to credit card purchases, gas is the most frequent purchase. Food, groceries and retail items are also on the list, but when you think about it, it makes sense — most Americans pump their own gas on a very regular basis. For many people the price of gas relates directly […]

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    Zero Sum Game: The Black Box of the Congressional Budget ProcessGovernment, Blog

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    So, how do you do your household budgeting? Millions of us use QuickBooks or some variation thereof. For those who are technologically challenged (I was for years), yellow pads, composition books, copy paper, accounting journals, even index cards, are the medium of choice. However different their materials may be, most consumers who keep a household budget without the aid of an accountant or bookkeeper use pretty much the same method. As a rule, even accountants and […]

  • The Silver Lining in the U.S. Debt DowngradeBlog, Money

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    No matter which side of the political fence or economic Continental Divide you sit on, few can deny that this was the week that was. It began with the controversial debt-ceiling deal about which I wrote in my last column. Shortly after the president signed off and the legislation became law — a remarkably silly law, even in the context of a country with so many silly laws — Moody’s issued a statement that it […]

  • Of Debt Ceiling Debates, Non-Denial Denials and Non-Default DefaultsBlog, Money

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    In 1980, Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan asked the American people: “Are you better off than you were four years ago… Is America more respected?” Fast forward to the cyber era of 2011, where anything less than real time is considered “so two weeks ago,” and weeks seem like dog years: are you feeling better now than you did four months ago? Do you believe that America is more respected in the world after our […]

  • On Cell Phone Hacking and Privacy: A Modest Proposal for Mr. MurdochData Security

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    The recent revelations regarding the outrageous escapades of certain News Corp. subsidiaries, and the employees thereof, have been so scandalous as to capture and dominate the attention of the worldwide media for several weeks. For once, most Americans began to follow business news with the obsessive fascination normally accorded “Jersey Shore” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” This story has everything: the resignations and apparent bribery of high Scotland Yard officials; the arrest of very […]

  • Un-Warrented: American Consumers Lose Their Biggest DefenderFinancial Literacy, Banking, Blog, Money

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    At long last, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launches officially this week. Unfortunately, so far it seems that what happens on Thursday, July 21st could be more of a lurch than a launch. As has been rumored over the past few weeks, President Obama bypassed the chief architect and advocate of the Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, to be its first director. He nominated Richard Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio, who rose to national prominence […]

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