I have yet to vote for a Republican presidential candidate in the 21st century, even though I’m a Republican-leaning Independent. But my voting status is about to change. I’ve stumbled into some ideas lately that will allow me peace of mind in voting for Romney this coming Tuesday. Granted, my vote may not mean much in the larger scheme of things. But it means something to me. It’s about one’s conscience in performing civic duties.
Congress appeared taken by surprise in October of 2008 as the financial crisis on Wall Street unfolded. Congress was in a state of shock and awe, amazed to see their policymaking implicated in the speculative bubble and its collapse. But why were they surprised? How did these legislative engineers fail to see the hazards of their fiscal deficits? Had they been pawns? Were they errantly advised? Or were they led astray by false theories and their own greed?
In 2009 the leading issue of moral hazard was “too big to fail.” Not surprisingly, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As the congressional bank hearings of 2010 unfold, the new touchstone of moral hazard is “too big to discipline.” The heads of Morgan Stanley, J.P Morgan and Bank of America argue that they cannot be reproved in practice or disciplined by being broken up because their gargantuan size is necessary for the health of American banking in a global environment. ‘Make us pay, and you’ll pay,’ is their mantra!
Purportedly, President Obama may attempt to shift the focus of the G20 summit from banking improprieties to a rebalancing of trade. While a restructuring of trade is important, Obama is out-of-step with the American public if he diverts attention from the need to cap bank bonuses, heighten scrutiny of hedge funds, and corral the shadow banking system. Recent reports of a power regrowth in the investment banking sector lend support to this concern.
Did Wall Street quake when President Obama recently addressed its elites on the one year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse? Hardly. If anything, some on Wall Street were heartened by discrete assurances that reforms would not go deeply into the evolved architecture of capitalism.
In September, 1901, Vice-President Teddy Roosevelt uttered his memorable adage, “speak softly but carry a big stick.” Shortly thereafter, President McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist, making TR at age 42 America’s 26th president. As president he failed to speak softly at times but did carry an executive bludgeon. His legacy still shines because he swatted at the insolence of his own party as well as Democratic interests. Our current president would do well to consider Teddy Roosevelt’s example in matters of economic justice.
President Obama’s national health care agenda is big, bad, and bold. It is also better in various important respects than what we have currently. However, it is fatally flawed. The seriousness of the flaws outweighs the plan’s efficacies and virtues. As a result, the U.S. Congress should reject this legislation and address the fact that the nation consumes too much expensive but ineffectual health care.
President Obama's financial regulatory reforms will bring positive, meaningful changes to the way Wall Street does business. For this he should be commended. Nevertheless, the reforms fail to do enough, are not suitably instrumented, and sidestep systemic change. The reforms serve to affirm Wall Street's position, increasing the odds that Wall Street's grip over America will continue. This means more elitism and less true justice. The wealth and power gap between working Americans and the privileged elites of Manhattan Island will remain unjustifiably wide.
Will the U.S. government get its budget deficit under control? A great deal depends upon what the stock market does — a market that may be entering a “boar market” phase where unpredictability is the tusked creature’s game. Stock market action over the last six weeks has been predictably bullish because of the consistent investment activity of trend following systems following the March technical reversal.
The goal of sustainable ecology means little without a commitment to sustainable economics. In economics the biggest issue of sustainability ought to be the right-sizing of an economy. An unsustainable economy is one that booms through the provision of debt additions, the health of the capital markets themselves becoming conditioned on the speculative idea of growth. Our unsustainable economy will in a few years produce unsustainable environmental policies, both coalescing to put us in worse circumstances than we find ourselves now.