Daily Archives: November 23, 2008

The Economist: Cities and states are cracking down on payday lending

IN 2007 the small city of Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas, was trying to overhaul its ageing infrastructure and faded industrial zones. City officials launched a renewal programme, but found their efforts marred by payday lenders. These are shops that offer small, short-term loans (in advance of payday) on unfavourable terms, and their neon signs hardly suggest a thriving and vital place. “They project an opposite kind of image,” says one city official. So Mesquite passed a strict zoning ordinance that will make it difficult for any new payday lenders to set up shop. The city cannot bar the practice, but it can try to elbow it out.

The payday lending industry has taken several hits this month. On November 6th the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that large fees for small loans violate the state constitution. In Arizona, voters rejected an industry-sponsored “reform” initiative that would have done away with a sunset provision on payday lending in the current law. In Ohio, voters decided not to repeal a law capping annual interest rates. This could mean the end of payday lending in those three states.

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

Time–Looking Ahead: A Bad Recession or Something Worse?

Just how far and how fast will the economy drop this quarter? There’s lately been a race to the bottom among forecasters, with the economists at Goldman Sachs leading the way. Early in the week, they put out a report saying that -3.5% annualized GDP growth was their baseline forecast for the quarter, but they also went so far as to outline a “just awful” scenario of -6.0% and a “worst case” of -7.8%. Today they updated their baseline forecast to -5%.

That puts Goldman well ahead, for the moment at least, of even Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor known as Dr. Doom ”” whose current forecast is about -4%. Lots of Wall Street economists less renowned for their gloominess have by now moved past the -3% mark. In fact, one explanation for the stock market’s horrible week could be that the realization of just how bad the quarter will be is finally sinking in among investors.

We haven’t been through anything this bad in a while. The last time the economy shrank faster than 3% was in the first quarter of 1982, when GDP dropped at a 6.4% annual rate. It hasn’t exceeded Goldman’s worst-case forecast of -7.8% since the first quarter of 1958, when it was -10.4%.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

I love New York (II)

Took our son Nathaniel on the tour and information learning seminar at Columbia University. Gee, it is an impressive place.

Spent time in the bookstore (say you are surprised). They had a book by Columbia graduates remembering their time at school. I remembered that Alexander Hamilton and Teddy Roosevelt went there, but how did I blank out on Thomas Merton? You learn something new every day–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Education

I love New York (I)

I was in the Big Apple this week with my family. We went to see In the Heights on Broadway. My heavens, it is no wonder the play won the Tony for best choreography–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall

Did You Know?

45 years ago today, John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley died.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History

WSJ: Lawrence Summers to Head National Economic Council

President-elect Barack Obama will name former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers the director of his National Economic Council, placing the Harvard University economist he passed over for Treasury secretary inside the White House as his closest economic adviser, Democratic officials said Saturday night.

The move came as the president-elect prepares Monday to introduce his new Treasury secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner, and the rest of his economic team at an event in Chicago Monday. Among those on stage will be Mr. Summers, who was central to his campaign’s economic team and is now leading efforts to draft a massive economic stimulus plan the president-elect hopes to sign into law as one of his first acts as the nation’s leader.

Mr. Obama has instructed his economic advisers to draft a stimulus that could dwarf the $175 billion version he campaigned on, stretching it over two years and pushing to create 2.5 million new jobs with it.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, US Presidential Election 2008

Christopher Howse: Anglicans who've lost their memory

Like an unwatched pan of milk, readers of the Church Times have seethed up and boiled over in response to an analysis of the Church of England by the ever-controversial historian Jonathan Clark.

Professor Clark, once the enfant terrible of Peterhouse and All Souls, now wields his scalpel from remote Kansas, but it cuts as sharply. The Church of England, he argues, is “losing command of its history”, thus losing its identity (as if a man had lost his memory, one might say).

In the 20th century, he notes, “Anglicanism was powered by German theology rather than by Anglican historiography”. One result is a loss of authority, which “is ultimately historically grounded”. That’s why, he says, “feminism and gay rights should today occupy so much of the attention of Anglicans”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE)

Jonathan Clark: The C of E needs a strong story

Perhaps we are seeing three devel­op­ments, overlapping and reinforcing each other. First, increasing numbers of able ecclesiastical historians in England have for some time been Roman Catholics ”” Aveling, Bossy, Duffy, Gilley, Hastings, Ker, Mayr-Harting, Morrill, Nockles, Questier, Riley-Smith, Scarisbrick, and others ”” and the Church of England has found no adequate reply.

This cannot just be chance. Increasingly, the Anglican history of the years since the 1530s is implicitly emerging as a phase, not a norm.

Second, the Church of England is increasingly indifferent to its his­torical dimension, neglecting the teaching of its history, unconcerned at the fate of ancient libraries, actively resistant to promoting scholarly clergy who might have historical views that would threaten a reigning consensus established on other evidential grounds than the historical.

Third, the few Anglicans who are historically aware now often depict the Church of England as essentially a radical Protestant denomination with a revolutionary foundation in the early 16th century, and revolutionary implications for morals and manners in our own day.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE)

Bishop Sisk's Address to the 232nd Convention of the Diocese of NY

Whatever our personal views on this election might be, the outcome is the same for all of us. All of us, no matter what our political perspective or our hopes for our nation and our world, are in this together.

Part of the deep tradition of the Episcopal Church is to pray for our leaders: rarely if ever have these prayers been more needed. Our nation and our world face vast and staggeringly complex problems; none of which can be solved quickly and easily. The problems are economic but they are aspirational as well. Bluntly put: how do we pay for things, and why do we make the particular choices that we do. As we answer that question we raise the deepest question of all: to what end do we live and move and have our being?

These will be testing times; times that, unless we are careful, will tempt us to pit one part of the population against another. Increasingly it will become clear to all that the journey will be long and it will be difficult. Speaking in economic terms, there will be a price to be paid: no one will be exempt. That being said, it is of fundamental importance that we, as a people, not give in to the temptation to balance budgets at the expense of those who simply lack the power to make their needs heard: the poor and those who serve the poor. However, sad to say, if history is any indicator, this is exactly what will happen.

I find it more than a little ironic that when the issue of meeting basic human needs is raised: be that education, or healthcare, or housing for the homeless, a common objection is the firm and wise sounding declaration: you know, you can’t just throw money at a problem. And yet, when financial institutions are in crisis, led by the very well paid people, who did so much to bring us this crisis in the first place, when they ask for aid that is exactly what happens. Money has been thrown at the problem. And it has been thrown without a really clear understanding of exactly what it will actually accomplish. As you know so well, we’re not talking here about billions of dollars, or tens of billions, not even hundreds of billions, but, in the end, something in excess of a trillion dollars. In human terms this is more money than the human mind can fathom.

Mind you, I am not saying that this shouldn’t be done, or that it won’t work. What I am saying is that we should keep all these things in perspective and be mindful of just who finally is asked to actually pay the price for the national excess that has brought us to this sad moment.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, US Presidential Election 2008

Notable and Quotable

You have a Treasury Secretary that seems to have left the field before the end of the third quarter.

Charles Gabriel at Alpha Partners speaking this week about Hank Paulson

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Washington Post: Tim Geithner, a Treasury Contender Schooled in Crisis

He was a career staffer in the international affairs division of the Treasury Department in the early 1990s when then-undersecretary Lawrence H. Summers noticed and promoted him. By the end of the Clinton administration, Summers was Treasury secretary and [Tim] Geithner was an undersecretary. Now, Obama is apparently passing over Summers for his onetime protege, though Summers is also said to be returning to government as a White House adviser.

In congressional testimony following the March rescue of Bear Stearns, Geithner and other officials faced tough questions about their actions. An angry Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) demanded to know how the financial system became so fragile. The chairman of the Fed, a Treasury undersecretary and the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission sat silently.

Geithner responded: “What produced this is a very complicated mix of factors. I don’t think anybody understands it yet. But we have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out how to get a better handle on this sort of stuff . . . because it’s very important that we try to figure out a way to make this system less vulnerable to this in the future.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, US Presidential Election 2008

David Broder: Rising Hope For Fixing Health Care

Things are looking up for substantive reform of America’s troubled health-care system.

No one who knows the history of such efforts, from Harry Truman’s administration through Bill Clinton’s, needs to be reminded of the difficulties that inevitably confront any plan to overhaul one-seventh of the U.S. economy and bring high-quality medicine to millions of the uninsured.

But developments at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue last week — and across the country — pointed up both the urgency of the problem and the prospects for seeing significant action.

When Barack Obama’s transition team let out word that former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle would be his choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services and to quarterback his work on health reform, it signaled that Obama is serious about his campaign promise to make that issue a first-term priority.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, US Presidential Election 2008

Sally Quinn Makes a Case for the Obamas to Worship at the National Cathedral

“The reality is that the cathedral serves as a sacred space for the nation,” says Sam Lloyd, dean of the cathedral. “A place the nation looks to in critical times.”

Washington National Cathedral also transcends politics and even the separation of religions. Though nominally an Episcopal church, it welcomes everyone. It is at once deeply Christian and deeply interfaith. The Episcopal Church has a long history of inclusiveness. The first black bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, John Walker, presided there. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop in the Episcopal Church, was inducted there. And Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of the Diocese of New Hampshire was the first openly gay bishop in Christendom.

“We are a place that welcomes people of all faiths and no faith,” says Lloyd, echoing Barack Obama’s words of two years ago. “Whatever we once were,” Obama said then, “we’re no longer just a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of nonbelievers.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes, US Presidential Election 2008

Obama to Develop Plan to Create 2.5 Million Jobs

President-elect Barack Obama has instructed his economic team to develop a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, suggesting that he intends to push a more expensive package to stimulate the economy than he has so far proposed.

Speaking during the Democrats’ weekly radio address, Obama said that his team would work out the details of the package in the coming weeks but that he expects to present it to Congress in January and to sign it into law soon after taking office.

It will be a two-year nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy, Obama said. “We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels,” as well as fuel-efficient cars.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, US Presidential Election 2008

RNS: California Fires Destroy Hilltop Episcopal Monastery

The wildfires that have burned approximately 40,000 acres and hundreds of homes in Southern California have also destroyed a historic Episcopal monastery set on a hill in Santa Barbara.

Nancy Bullock, guesthouse director for the Mount Calvary Monastery and Guesthouse, said because the 20,000-square-foot Spanish-style home was situated on a hill, residents could see the fire coming before it reached the monastery last Friday morning.

“We did not wait for a call from the fire department,” she said. “We evacuated before that.”

The 22 guests of the monastery were told to leave before the seven resident monks packed up the essentials. Bullock said the only painting saved was a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe that hung in the monastery’s chapel.

Read it all and you can see some pictures of what the facility used to look like here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer