Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quotes of the day

It’s a very brutal business being in politics. You have to persevere, and idealism doesn’t take you anywhere. [His mantra:] Patience, thoughtfulness, and perseverence. The world is a very difficult place. If you are tending sheep, it is better to know where the wolves are.--James Jonah

Apparently, unlike GM, Chrysler, and the GSEs [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac], the banks didn't get the memo that said when you get a bailout the polite thing to do is to continue to fail. ... the government is seeking to write ex post facto rules. ... The deal was the deal. There is no crying in baseball. ... The "banks" guilty of causing the bubble need not be the same "banks" that were rescued and neither group coincides exactly with the "banks" to be taxed. This flexibility is one of the great strengths of unfair scapegoating. ... So the government, upset about banker bonuses, is penalizing bank shareholders who will bear the brunt of this tax (not bankers) for these same shareholders are not getting paid enough of the 2009 profits, which the shareholders were fine with. If that sentence is confusing, do not worry, you are following as well as the government. ... Bankers deserve their share of castigation, but no more than their share, and that inconvenient truth makes things a lot more complicated. ... The belief is that moneylenders and speculators are powerful enough to cause all our economic problems, but not useful enough to deserve a share of our economic successes. ... You can't get a good mob attack off the ground with ... even-handed reasoning.--Cliff Asness

The rescue of the financial system has succeeded. But borrowing by every sector, except government, is negative. How far this is because the financial sector does not wish to lend or the non-financial sector does not wish to borrow is unclear. I assume both forces are at work. As the McKinsey Global Institute reminds us in a recent report, deleveraging can take many years. The contrast between strong finance and a weak economy is inevitable in the early stages of the post-crisis recovery. It is also desperately unpopular.--Martin Wolf

The problem here is that healthy banks end up competing with each other to have the largest capital surplus and therefore the greatest chance of being anointed in this manner by the FDIC. If everybody was lending, the FDIC would still have to place failed banks’ assets and deposits with someone. But instead we get the opposite corner solution, where nobody is lending — except, presumably, for banks which are close to failure and need all the interest income they can get. I wonder whether the FDIC has anybody thinking about how to counteract this syndrome.--Felix Salmon

Crazy, the global economy is supposedly repeating the Great Depression mistakes based on an election in a small state where the Democratic candidate couldn't identify Red Sox players.--Joe Weisenthal

Mr. [Peter] Galbraith has written several opinion articles for the [New York Times] Op-Ed page in support of Kurdish independence and security. These articles should have disclosed to readers that Mr. Galbraith could benefit financially from an independent Kurdistan that would not have to share oil revenues with Iraq.--NYT Editors

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