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OpenMarket: April 2009

  • Credit card debt drops in February

    April 7, 2009
    The latest figures on consumer credit from the Federal Reserve show that consumers are hunkering down, especially on credit card debt. Revolving credit outstanding – mainly credit card debt – fell at an annual rate of 9-3/4 percent in February 2009 from the month before. Revolving credit outstanding fell from $963.5 billion in January to $955.7 billion in February. Pools of securitized assets based on credit card debt fell from $448.1 billion to $440.3 billion. These balances are no longer carried on the books of the credit card issuers...
  • Rise of the Luddites

    April 7, 2009
    When it comes to things such as environmental policy, the Progressives have been rather successful at promoting their world view.  They realized that it would be futile to argue that property rights and human ingenuity could not solve anything - so they did not try (immediately) to socialize oil or other sub-surface minerals but they did succeed in derailing the evolutionary process by which institutions emerged to resolve emerging problems.  The economist Ronald Coase  noted this in an essay pointing out that the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) was well on its way to being homesteaded with rules for allowing multiple uses - and then the Feds created the Federal Communication Commission and the spectrum is still terribly managed to this day.   The environment is...
  • India calls carbon tariffs protectionist

    April 7, 2009
    At the Bonn, Germany, UN meetings on global warming issues, India urged rich countries not to use "green" protectionism by imposing carbon tariffs on carbon-intensive products from poor countries.  India's special envoy to the talks, Shyam Saran, was quoted as saying:
    "That is simply not acceptable, that is protectionism." "We should be very careful that we don't start going in that direction. We welcome any kind of arrangement ... where there can be a sharing of experience or best practices for any of these energy-intensive sectors."
    Earlier, China's top climate change official had warned about possible retaliation if carbon tariffs were assessed, as was suggested by the U.S. Secretary of Energy.  Sounds...
  • GASPing at the Geithner-Summers Plan

    April 7, 2009
    Like the acronym for the Geithner and Summers Plan -- GASP -- in the article by Laurence J Kotlikoff and Jeffrey Sachs. And "gasp" is indeed the reaction to the $1 trillion plan to deal with financial institutions' toxic assets.  As Kotlifkoff and Sachs note, the plan can easily be gamed by participants:
    The situation is even worse that it looks, however, since the GASP can be gamed by the banks that own the toxic assets to boost the purchase prices for their bad assets even higher than has been suggested to date.
  • DeSmogBlog: What About Me?

    April 7, 2009
    Yesterday DeSmogBlog added 7 more entries to its Global Warming Denier Database, which is touted as "an extensive database of individuals involved in the global warming denial industry." I took a look at the Database, and I am outraged. Why I am I not on the list!!?? Not only am I an unabashed global warming denier*, I personally contribute almost as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as mega-emitter Al Gore, alarmist hypocrite. I understand that I might be too small a fish to warrant entry onto the list. After all, I am a lowly policy analyst. That said, the author of the Global...
  • Salt of the earth

    April 7, 2009
    Many people believe that salt is bad for your health, but John Tierney’s column today in the New York Times points out the body of research that shows it ain’t necessarily so. Yet New York City politicians are embarking on a “nationwide” campaign to force food companies and restaurants to reduce consumers’ salt intake by one-half.

    On a somewhat related theme Megan McArdle asks why so many “green” products don’t perform as well as the standard ones. She says:

  • The Growing Chorus against Foreign Aid

    April 6, 2009
    In today's Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O'Grady takes on the Obama administration's approach to foreign aid, which, she argues, amounts merely to maintaining a failing system -- specifically, giving more cash to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB):
    Does it follow that poverty persists because the amounts have been just too measly to do the job? It does for Mr. Geithner and the foreign-aid brigades. But rather than rely on those with vested interests, it's more useful to look at the empirical evidence. A 2006 paper titled "Foreign Aid, Income Inequality and Poverty," from the research department of the IDB itself, looked at the period 1971-2002 and found "some weak evidence that foreign aid is conducive to the improvement of the distribution of income [sic]. When...
  • Lincoln To Vote No on Card Check

    April 6, 2009
    Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln announced today that she will oppose the so-called Employee Free Choice Act, also known as teh "card check" bill. With Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter announcing his opposition last week, pro-EFCA forces' chances to muster 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster look increasingly slim -- for this Congress. We can now expect organized labor to sink millions (from member dues, of course) into Senate races in 2010. For more on card check, see here.
  • LibertyWeek 37: Slicin' and Dyson

    April 6, 2009
    Your host Richard Morrison sits down this week with special guest co-hosts Michelle Minton and William Yeatman for LibertyWeek 37 (regular co-host Cord Blomquist is on the road). We start off with a profile of visionary physicist and global warming skeptic Freeman Dyson, then spend some time WILBing around to improve our productivity at the office, and move on to sixteen full ounces of barkeeper honesty. Finally we take a look at the Chicago factor in Olympic News.
  • Myron Ebell on Cap and Trade

    April 6, 2009
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