Monthly Archives: September 2008

Treasury and Fed Looking at Other Options

Robert A. Dye, chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, said those efforts amounted to patchwork solutions and had thus far failed to bolster confidence in credit markets.

“The problem is that these are just a series of ad hoc solutions on a business-by-business basis, and they aren’t addressing the systemic problems in any basic way,” Mr. Dye said.

But other analysts said that credit markets around the world were almost entirely dysfunctional on Monday morning, when political leaders and investors alike assumed that Congress had reached a firm deal and would easily approve the bailout.

“It’s our view that this package, in a fundamental sense, will not solve the problem,” said Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Johnson said that he had been hoping that the bailout plan would simply stabilize the markets through the presidential elections in November, but that he was now pessimistic about even that.

Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners, an investment firm in Greenwich, Conn., said the Treasury’s bailout plan might have even unnerved many investors.

“I don’t see how it can help banks unless it’s clear that the government is going to buy these assets for substantially more than they are worth right now,” Mr. Darda said. “It’s such a big step in terms of government influencing the private sector, and it’s hard for investors to take a leap like that overnight, especially when they don’t know what’s going on.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General

Mark Pinsky: Science and faith, the British way

As a religion writer with a growing interest in science, I’ve wondered how science/religion tensions play out in other cultures. On a recent fellowship at the University of Cambridge, scientists I met did not fit the stereotypes common to American popular culture.

While impossible to quantify, a surprising number of prominent British researchers at the pinnacle of their fields, with worldwide reputations in the physical and biological sciences, proclaim their evangelical Christian faith. And they are not perfunctory adherents, merely showing up for Sunday worship; they believe in acting on their beliefs. Some have taken up weekend pulpits.

Their roster includes Sir John Houghton, former head of the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office; Sir John Polkinghorne, a particle physicist, Anglican priest and author of numerous books on science and religion; Sir Brian Heap, a biologist; geologist Robert W. White and paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris. I asked these scientists the sources of their belief, and the answers they gave me were intriguing to someone who for years has been more immersed in the world of American evangelicals, where I frequently found that hostility toward science seemed to be the norm in public controversies. These Brits cited a disparate mixture of empirical scientific evidence and the veracity of Scripture for their Christianity, based equally on science and faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Kendall Harmon: My Two Cents on Yesterday's Failed Vote on the Economic Rescue Plan

This reminds me of a church capital campaign where the rector rallies a reluctant majority of the vestry behind it, but not the parish.

First, it matters. There really is a lot at stake here.

Second, there have been mistakes by all involved. The Bush administration has done a poor job of explaining this problem to the average citizen. They are not making enough reference to the credit markets (true even of the President this morning). Nancy Pelosi’s speech right before the vote was highly unhelpful (she did better later in the day after the vote failed when she sounded a more conciliatory note). The process by leaders from both parties in the house was too rushed and left too many feeling not only unheard but in many cases ignored. The Republicans should have done a better job of communicating to other leaders about how soft the support from their constituency really was.

But the American people were against this plan. That is one of the central reasons it failed.

Democracy is messy, but the process is set up the way it is for a reason. If something this important doesn’t have a majority of the country behind it, it doesn’t deserve to pass. I hope everyone does better going forward from here–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall

Lehrer News Hour: Rescue Bill Failure Shocks Wall Street

MARGARET WARNER: And, Jeanne, in fact, we only had 60 percent of the Democrats vote for it, 40 percent against, and only a third of the Republicans. That’s a pretty wide repudiation. What do you think happened? What was behind this?

JEANNE CUMMINGS, Politico.com: Well, I think we had a combination of things going on. We had — ideology was a problem. This was totally against where some of the free-market Republicans would ever want to be.

We had politics at play here. Many of these no votes came from members who are in tight races. And they are really going to need the base to come out.

And I was hearing that their calls were like 99 percent to 1, you know. It was the local community bankers who were saying, “Please do this, because we’re next.” But otherwise it was very negative public response to this.

And then, of course, we had some partisan petulance. I mean, it was sort of Washington at its worst. It was a really toxic mix.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

NPR's Marketplace: What happened? And what's next?

[Kai] Ryssdal: What was it about this bill you didn’t much care for?

[Peter] DeFazio [a democrat from oregon in the House]: Well, I thought the whole premise on which it was based was false, but somehow if the taxpayers borrowed $700 billion and took a bunch of bad debts from Wall Street, that this would bring about liquidity and then ultimately would somehow filter down help Main Street, help housing, help the basic economy. But beyond that, we’ve heard from William Isaacs, head of the FDIC. He ran it during the last, previous greatest financial crisis in the history of America, savings and loan, and he said a couple of simple steps could deal with the bank liquidity issue.

So I think there are practical proposals out there that just weren’t heard. And in addition to that, Paulson didn’t at all get, in my mind, to the underlying part of the economy — the problems in housing and the declining housing market. There are credible economists who said: Hey, if you don’t deal with housing, you may be taking care of this week’s bad securities, but guess what? Next week, if housing goes down another 5 percent, there’s gonna be a whole batch more bad securities out there. You’ve gotta deal with the underlying problems in housing and the underlying problems in the economy.

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Libor Surges Most on Record After U.S. Congress Rejects Bailout

The cost of borrowing in dollars overnight surged the most on record after the U.S. Congress rejected a $700 billion bank rescue plan, heightening concern more institutions will fail.

The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, that banks charge each other for such loans climbed 431 basis points to an all-time high of 6.88 percent today, the British Bankers’ Association said. The euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, for one-month loans climbed to record 5.05 percent, the European Banking Federation said. The Libor-OIS spread, a gauge of the scarcity of cash, advanced to a record. Rates in Asia also rose.

“The money markets have completely broken down, with no trading taking place at all,” said Christoph Rieger, a fixed- income strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt. “There is no market any more. Central banks are the only providers of cash to the market, no-one else is lending.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

USA Today on yesterday's failed vote: At critical moment of crisis, irresponsibility wins the day

This is standard politics, but perhaps both could hold off on the blame game until a solution to the immediate crisis is in place. There’s still plenty of time to argue about who caused what, but not much time to keep the economy out of crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Doug Leblanc: Christ's church will not merely survive; it will prevail

Further, when Christians take different sides on theological questions, we cannot all be correct. At the Last Judgment, we all will know God’s truth with the greatest clarity. Until then, we can — we should — be more alert to how our fellow Christians may be serving God and what we may learn from them.

Another Lambeth Conference has convened and adjourned. Does anyone doubt that most of the tensions within the church will persist in the months and years ahead?

I’ve often fallen prey to a false assumption that conflict — whether in my marriage or in the church — is an inherent evil. I live as a better Christian by remembering this advice from premarital counseling: Conflict is not the problem.

It’s in how we respond to conflict that we practice the presence of God — or the presence of hell. Where do I prefer to dwell in that moment? For what eternal place am I preparing my body and soul?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Conflicts, Theology

No quick end to gas shortage in Southeast

A storm-related gas shortage in the Southeast that has left some places bone-dry and others with two-hour gas lines is expected to continue for at least another two weeks, energy experts and industry officials say.

The shortage began two weeks after Hurricane Gustav hit the oil-refining regions of the Gulf Coast on Sept. 1. Operations that shut down before that storm were just coming back online when Hurricane Ike hit, forcing another shutdown. The gas shortage, now in its third week, is particularly acute here in sprawling Atlanta, in Nashville in parts of the Carolinas and in Anniston, Ala.

“I don’t go anywhere once I find some and get my tank filled up,” says Alicia Woods, 32, who waited 45 minutes to fill up Sunday morning at a QuikTrip in Cobb County, Ga. “Going out, visiting friends, all that just has to wait. I have to keep my gas for getting back and forth to work.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Gallup Daily: Obama Maintains 8-Point Lead

The latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update, based on Sept. 26-28 polling, shows Barack Obama with a 50% to 42% lead over John McCain, unchanged from the prior report.

Read the rest.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Telegraph: Barack Obama's team believes he can win by a landslide

But his aides are convinced that he has a strong chance of winning no fewer than nine states won by George W.Bush in the closely contested 2000 election, including former Republican strongholds like North Carolina, Virginia and even Indiana, which have not voted Democrat for a generation.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, said last week that Obama had “a lot of opportunity” in states which Mr Bush won four years ago.

But in private briefings in Washington, a member of Mr Obama’s inner circle of policy advisers went much further in spelling out why the campaign’s working assumptions far exceed the expectations of independent observers.

“Public polling companies and the media have underestimated the scale of new Democratic voters registration in these states,” the campaign official told a friend. “We’re much stronger on the ground in Virginia and North Carolina than people realise. If we get out the vote this may not be close at all.”

I confess I was surprised to see this as I think it will hurt the Obama campaign. In any event, read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

LA Times: Robert Kuttner and J.D. Foster debate the Economy and the Bailout Bill

What should Congress do now?

First, rescue the money markets and the toxic securities by refinancing the underlying mortgages — rather than bailing out the banks. In the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s Home Owners Loan Corp., a branch of the government, refinanced one out of every five mortgages. Roosevelt’s administration saved about 1 million Americans from foreclosure. No middlemen got rich.

If we can stop the wave of foreclosures, we brake the collapse in housing prices. The bondholders would get bought out at so many cents on the dollar, just as they would have in the Paulson plan. But with the Kuttner plan, homeowners are the primary beneficiaries. Under Paulson’s approach, the bondholders get bailed out but many homeowners still lose their home or keep paying Mafia mortgage rates. It’s just what you’d expect from a guy who still operates as if he were the chief executive of Goldman Sachs — which Paulson once was.

Second difference: The government should take over failing banks directly and get rid of toxic executives as well as the toxic investments they made.

Read both pieces carefully.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Welsh Church ”˜will not cater for traditionalists’

The Church in Wales will not appoint a new “flying bishop” for traditionalists, Archbishop Barry Morgan said on Sept 17, saying the position was no longer necessary nor was such a post consistent with Anglican ecclesiology. Those opposed to the ordination of women still had a place with the Church in Wales, he said and asked traditionalists to trust the bishops to look after their interests.

The decision comes as a repudiation of the work of Dr Rowan Williams, traditionalists charged, as the former Bishop of Monmouth was instrumental in creating the post of “flying bishop” 12 years ago, and marks a hardening of positions in the Welsh Church.

Traditionalist leaders took little comfort from the bishops’ assurances of continued support. The Rev Alan Rabjohns, Chairman of Credo Cymru, Forward in Faith Wales said “this is a disappointing and sad statement.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales

U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops offers 5 keys to end the Financial Crisis

The first key Bishop Murphy encouraged was taking into account the “human and moral dimensions” of the crisis.

“Economic arrangements, structures and remedies should have as a fundamental purpose safeguarding human life and dignity,” he affirmed. The prelate said a “scandalous search for excessive economic rewards,” which gets to the point of exacerbating the vulnerable, is an example of “an economic ethic that places economic gain above all other values.”

“This ignores the impact of economic decisions on the lives of real people as well as the ethical dimension of the choices we make and the moral responsibility we have for their effect on people,” Bishop Murphy wrote.

Second, the New York bishop called for “responsibility and accountability.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Bishop Jack Iker: 10 Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Realign

Our 26th annual convention is approaching, and a momentous decision is before us as a diocese. At last year’s convention, your clergy and elected delegates voted by majorities of around 80 percent each to remove language in our Constitution that affiliates us with the General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC). This year, clergy and delegates will be asked to ratify that decision to separate.

“Why now?” someone might ask. “Why is this the time for our diocese to separate from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and realign with another Province of the Anglican Communion?”

Here are a few of the thoughts that come to mind:

1. This is God’s time ”“ our kairos moment ”“ and it has been coming for a long time. We believe that God the Holy Spirit has guided and directed us to this particular time and moment of decision. Some might well ask, “Why has it taken us so long to take definitive action, given the past 30 years of the shenanigans of The Episcopal Church?” We have explored every avenue and exhausted every possibility. Now is the time to decide to separate from the moral, spiritual, and numerical decline of TEC.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth