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  • Bank of America, Adam Smith and a Fee Market System

    Financial Literacy Banking Blog Personal Finance 

    This week, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill) made a remarkably pithy statement on the floor of the Senate that Bank of America patrons should “vote with your feet, get the heck out of that bank.” By now, everyone who reads, watches and listens knows that Bank of America instituted a five dollar per month charge for usage of its debit cards effective early next year, and, of course, that’s what prompted Durbin’s remark. While there will […]

  • Memo to Obama: Push for Jobs, Don’t Shove Employers

    Government Blog Money 

    The American Jobs Act provides yet another example of President Obama potentially snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It proposes a punitive response to a problem that now plagues the country — employers are hesitant to hire the long-term unemployed. The missed opportunity is still there to be had: How about providing incentives? At issue is the Job Act’s proposal to make it “an unlawful employment practice” to refuse employment “because of the individual’s […]

  • How to Fix the Foreclosure Crisis: A Real Bailout

    Government Mortgages Blog Personal Finance 

    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 No

    Government Politics Blog Personal Finance 

    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 

    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 Mania

    Mortgages Blog Money 

    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 

    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 […]

  • Capitol building

    Zero Sum Game: The Black Box of the Congressional Budget Process

    Government Blog 

    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 Downgrade

    Blog Money 

    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 Defaults

    Blog Money 

    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 […]

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