March 7, 2014 at 12:13 pm
Fox News's Juan Williams writes about a vote of Rutgers University faculty to ask the administration to cancel an invitation to Condoleezza Rice to speak at commencement and receive an honorary degree. He writes:
March 7, 2014 at 11:55 am
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is going to spend $22.3 million to lease temporary office space for two years in a building controlled by an Obama friend and campaign bundler while the new agency's future headquarters undergoes a $145 million renovation, the Washington Examiner reports. There's a word for what is being done to taxpayers by this agency's real estate deals, and "protection" isn't it.
In a normal world of checks and balances as envisioned by the founders and enacted in the Constitution, Congress would simply refuse to appropriate these funds, and the agency would find some less expensive workspace. But the agency, as created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, is funded not by Congress but by the Federal Reserve. As the director of the CFPB put it in an October 2013 letter to the CFO of the Federal Reserve:
March 6, 2014 at 11:02 am
The University of Chicago's "Grumpy Economist" John Cochrane has a post taking a skeptical look at a chart from Torsten Sloak of Deutsche Bank Research that traces the "population aged 25 to 54 as a share of total population" along with the overall "employment-population ratio":
March 6, 2014 at 9:32 am
The Winter 2014 issue of the Tufts University alumni magazine has an interview/profile of Eugene Fama, a Tufts graduate and University of Chicago professor who won the Nobel Prize in Economics. From the article:
March 6, 2014 at 9:20 am
Mount Sinai Hospital's cardiac catheterization lab — which apparently gives some patients "emergencies by appointment" so Medicaid will cover catheterizations for patients who show up at the emergency room — is the subject of a Bloomberg News article. The article reports that Samin Sharma, the director of interventional cardiology at the hospital, was paid $4.8 million by Mount Sinai in 2012:
March 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm
Carl Icahn this week released his annual letter to unitholders of Icahn Enterprises. One thing that struck me was the table in which he compares the performance of Icahn Enterprises, L.P. with that of the S & P 500 Index, the NASDAQ Composite Index, the Russell 2000 Index, and the Dow Jones Industrials. He also compares his own company's performance with that of three other individual companies. One is Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's company. He doesn't explain why he chose the other two (which, disclosure, I own some shares of), but it struck me as interesting that he did choose them, because they seem to be the yardsticks against which he's measuring his own performance.
March 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm
The Tax Foundation has some characteristically useful analysis of the tax proposals of the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Dave Camp, and of President Obama.
President Obama's budget, the Tax Foundation says, includes $1.3 trillion in tax increases over ten years.
And Chairman Camp's proposal, the Tax Foundation says, features a staggering 54.3 percent marginal tax rate for those with income between $30,001 and $32,631 a year. Even though the statutory tax bracket for the taxpayers earning that amount would be 10 percent, the phaseouts of credits and deductions mean that taxpayers at that level would get to keep only 45.7 cents of each additional dollar they earn.
March 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan's 497-page decision in Chevron Corporation v. Donzinger contains some interesting color about how Steven Donziger, the lawyer who was pursuing what Judge Kaplan characterizes as a fraudulently obtained judgment against Chevron, called in support from then-attorney general of New York Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli. Mr. DiNapoli was the sole trustee of the New York State pension fund, which owned about half a billion dollars worth of Chevron stock. The Kaplan opinion says that "in response to lobbying efforts by Donziger's team," Mr. DiNapoli "repeatedly urged Chevron to settle" and "even wrote a Huffington Post piece" urging such a settlement. Karen Hinton, a former Cuomo aide, worked with Donziger to advance the case against Chevron.
Ms. Hinton wrote a Politico article defending herself in advance of Judge Kaplan's ruling.
March 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm
Harvard Economics professor Martin Feldstein has an op-ed piece calling for gradually increasing the Social Security age for full retirement benefits to 70 from 67, with automatic increases after that linked to progress in life expectancy.
March 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm
When libertarian (or classical liberal) law professor Richard Epstein and consumer advocate Ralph Nader are on the same side of an issue, it's worth paying close attention. Professor Epstein's Hoover Institution column this week is about what he calls "the government's unconstitutional money grab" from the shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Professor Epstein, who discloses in the column that he consults to hedge funds with positions in Fannie and Freddie, cites a letter by Ralph Nader to Treasury Secretary Lew making the point that shareholders in Fannie and Freddie should share in the recovery of those companies rather than being wiped out — or, as Mr. Nader colorfully puts it, being used and abused — by the government.
March 4, 2014 at 8:50 am
MSNBC had me on yesterday to talk about Warren Buffett's annual letter. The link is here and the video is embedded below.
I didn't have the presence of mind to correct the anchor who said that Mr. Buffett likes to travel commercial, but it's a great example of how even sophisticated observers labor under false impressions about Mr. Buffett, who, after all, through Berkshire Hathaway owns NetJets and gets around that way.
March 4, 2014 at 8:36 am
My column this week offers nine reasons to oppose President Obama's proposed increase in the federal minimum wage. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).
March 3, 2014 at 9:53 am
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, is turning into a revolving door like the rest of the Washington regulatory complex. My former New York Sun colleague Jacob Gershman reports at the Wall Street Journal's law blog:
March 3, 2014 at 9:47 am
The Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC had me on over the weekend to talk about Governor Brewer's veto of the Arizona religious freedom law. I tried to make the case that religious differences over gay marriage and birth control are best dealt with through modest, small government that leaves room for individual choices rather than imposing centralized, one-size-fits-all commands. Three clips are embedded below.
March 3, 2014 at 6:47 am
The president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks, has a piece in the New York Times usefully characterizing as "envy" some of the obsession with income inequality. My quibble is that along the way Mr. Brooks endorses an expansion of the earned income tax credit, without providing detail about how much he would expand it, how he'd propose to pay for such an expansion, why the redistribution of the credit is just, or how he would avoid the perverse incentives of the credit's phase-out.
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