May 8, 2009

The Best of the Week

As a regular feature I'll be posting on the weekend a Best of the Week, which will occasionally be updated on Sundays also (if not posted on Sunday to begin with). Work is proceeding on the final draft of the book I've been working on (see my profile).

This week a couple of pieces stood out for drama:

Charlie Rose had an interview with Neel Kashkari (notes below):

some interesting moments (times):

9-11 minutes: house prices, loan modifications, what will end the "housing crisis"
17-23 minutes: the $700 billion, the crisis, the changes, the reasoning
24: "Nationalize (sic) the banks" vs. reality


And not to be over-shadowed, Adam Davidson, whom is usually fun to listen to, ended up going overboard on Elizabeth Warren, finally resorting to labels and pigeonholes. Of course, such don't fit so well. If Elizabeth Warren is "left", then the left is smaller than I thought, and we'll be needing a new label (or not) for what used to be "left". If you listen, here are a few economists Adam forgot when he said no economists agree that the problem of household debt is a central, primary problem on par with fixing banks (and I'm including any public/blog/interview statement to the effect that consumer/household debt is central and a main source of the problems banks face):

Ken Rogoff
Timothy Geithner
Nouriel Roubini

There are more (for instance Krugman has suggested this a few times lately), but these three could suffice. (Still if readers want to suggest more or offer links, I'll include them).

Notice these three don't fit in a common pigeonhole, unless it's "realist".

Ok, here's the link for that interview.

We hope Adam will re-balance. Sometimes a person has to make a mistake in order to find their own next step.

Update: After Adam's apology Monday, Planet Money posted the full unedited interview on Tuesday, which really is a lot more interesting.


One broad point I'd like to make: No one really knows the economic future. We have profound insights such as from Irving Fisher, but even standing on the high platforms of insights such as these don't afford a clear view through the fog of all the ever-changing decisions and efforts that together will sum and multiply and modify each other into true complexity.

One insight I can offer: ultimately our economy is a joint decision of all of us. We can indeed decide to move up, down, or in a new direction, and the mass decision of tens of millions moving together in response to the bully pulpit is no small matter. It could be decisive.

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