Here is Ben Bernanke’s problem:
1. The financial sector is busy setting up arrangements in which employees are guaranteed high levels of compensation if they stay on through the difficult days ahead. These retention-type payments allow firms to survive in their existing form, pursue business-as-usual, and gamble for resurrection, i.e., make further risky investments.
2. But these same payment schemes, e.g., Goldman Sachs’ loans-for-employees deal, are a form of poison pill with regard to further bailouts: The administration may want to help these firms down the road, but this kind of tunneling means Congress will put its foot down. Do you think that President Obama’s $750 billion for bailouts (scored as $250 billion) will survive the budget process? “No New Bailout Money” is a slogan reaching from here to the midterm congressional elections.
C. Randall Henning assesses the slow birth of a potential new financial cooperative led by China, Japan,
South Korea, and the growing economies of Southeast Asia, but they are struggling to define themselves and their mission.
Recorded February 27, 2009. © Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Michael Mussa, saying there will be an end to this recession, assesses the latest economic indicators and theObama administration’s plans for a financial system bailout.-Recorded February 17, 2009. © Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Steve Weisman: This is Steve Weisman at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Our guest today on Peterson Perspectives is Michael Mussa, senior fellow at the Institute. Mike, what is your assessment on where we are in climbing out of this downturn?
Arvind Subramanian says developing countries have many reasons for resenting the IMF, but they need to work together better to achieve reform at the Fund. Recorded March 12, 2009. © Peterson Institute for International Economics. Steve Weisman: This is Steve Weisman at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Our guest on Peterson Perspectives today is Arvind Subramanian, [...]
William R. Cline and Simon Johnson debate the pros and cons of bank nationalization.
Recorded March 9, 2009. © Peterson Institute for International Economics.
This is Steve Weisman at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Today’s session of Peterson Perspectives will be with both William Cline and Simon Johnson, senior fellows at the Peterson Institute, who have different perspectives on the issue of bank nationalization. I thought we could benefit from hearing a discussion between them.
Simon, what is meant by bank nationalization?Simon Johnson:.Well, I think, Steve, different people use that term to mean very different things. The issue to my mind in the United States right now is whether you should have an FDIC-type takeover or bankruptcy procedure, if you like, managed by the FDIC for major US banks. Obviously, the FDIC does this for smaller banks on a routine basis. Now, this kind of FDIC takeover is, I think, what people are referring to in many contexts as nationalization. And some people think it’s a bad idea. Some people think the FDIC would not be able to handle this and there are other ways to proceed with regard to any big banks that may be technically or otherwise deemed insolvent.
The global financial crisis offers all world leaders an opportunity to think big and reach out to international cooperation. President Barack Obama should seize this opportunity to dramatically turn around US-Russia relations by establishing a positive interaction with President Dmitri Medvedev based on an early formulation of a Russia policy. Aslund and Kuchins recommend that integration, as opposed to isolation, is the best way to “manage Russia’s rise.” They identify six key areas of desired cooperation: Iran and missile defense, European and regional security including Afghanistan, arms control, commercial relations, energy policy, and democracy and human rights. The US approach to Russia should foster an environment of mutual trust in which Russians are likely to make choices that will both promote global security and enhance their own prosperity. A Russia with a mature market economy and robust democratic institutions will be the most constructive and effective partner for the United States.
With the onslaught of the economic crisis and the United States projected to run historically large budget deficits in the near term, the imperative to reform America’s entitlement programs is stronger than ever. Only via combining the large short-term crisis-related outlays with expeditious long-term government budgetary correction can confidence be restored in the US government’s [...]
Testimony before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, US Congress March 10, 2009
Mr. Chairman and Cochairman, members of the Commission, thank you for inviting me to testify on this important and timely topic. My name is Trevor Houser and I am a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Director of the Energy and Climate Practice at the Rhodium Group (RHG), an economic research firm based in New York. Last year the Peterson Institute, in partnership with the World Resources Institute, launched a multiyear initiative to examine the international economic, trade, and financial dimensions of energy and climate policy. It is a great pleasure to be able to share with the Commission our research on ways that the US economy can, as the title of this hearing suggests, be both climate friendly and competitive.
It is common knowledge that the cost of Medicare and Medicaid will grow to become an unsustainably large part of the US federal budget in coming decades. Perhaps less well known is that more than 80 percent of the projected increases derive from “excess cost growth,” unrelated to expansion in coverage or the effects of an ageing population. Excess cost growth refers to the fact that the cost of treating each beneficiary is growing faster than the growth in nominal US per capita GDP.1 In other words, the problem stems from it becoming more and more expensive to treat each person and not increases in the number of people covered. It’s the cost (not the demography) stupid!
Global warming is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time, and how we address it will have far-reaching effects on the world economy. Scientific opinion has coalesced around the view that human activity has added great amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere even though natural forces are also at work.