Daily Archives: December 15, 2009

Cliff Asness Voices In On The Transaction Tax

Should Congress and the President find enough appeal in HR 4191 to enact it, there are three possible outcomes. The first is that there are enough loopholes that the tax raises little money but has unfortunate side effects like driving jobs and tax revenues overseas or inflating the balance sheets of banks. The second is that there are no meaningful loopholes but, surprisingly, people still trade a lot and enormous taxes are paid, in which case we expect stock prices to fall dramatically. The third, and most likely, is that there aren’t enough exemptions and investors react by sharply reducing trading activity, so there is little revenue but great harm to the market and the economy. Whichever of these occurs, the sponsors of the Bill will face a hard time explaining how, when aiming to shoot the banks, they shot their constituents who will then pay for the next Wall Street bailout.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market, Taxes

David Bebbington: Tobin himself abandoned the idea so why is the EU even debating this tax?

A financial transaction tax does not attempt to address the cause of the recent crisis and would be a destabilising action. Not all financial market participants would contribute equally. Different types of investors trade at different frequencies and would therefore be affected differently by the tax. Equity market-makers trade more often than traders of collateralised debt obligations or mortgage derivatives. The latter contributed more to this crisis, yet his proposal would tax the former more.

The liquidity impact from this tax is extremely hard to judge. Liquidity does not respond in a linear fashion and is one of the most difficult aspects of markets to model, although a tax would obviously be very negative. While the illiquid and low trading frequency credit markets (at the heart of the recent trouble) froze last year, the more liquid equity markets had fewer issues clearing and the highly liquid, rapidly trading Group of Seven government bond and forex markets cleared consistently. So the tax would hit the source of the problem the least and directly diminish the liquidity, therefore increasing the risk, in the markets that did continue to function because these markets have a higher average trading turnover.

Read it all from the FT.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, England / UK, Stock Market, Taxes

An Anglican congregation in Western New York considers the Pope's proposal

They worship in a former Catholic sanctuary, led by a former Catholic priest.

And if any congregation in Western New York were to take up Pope Benedict XVI’s recent landmark overture to Anglicans, it most likely would be St. Nicholas Anglican Church in West Seneca.

The small, “Anglo-Catholic” congregation uses a liturgy that mirrors a traditional Catholic Mass, adheres to a male-only clergy and has parishioners open to the possibility of entering into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

“This would be very typically the type of congregation the pope is targeting,” said the Rev. Gene Bagen, rector of St. Nicholas.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Der Spiegel: An Interview with US Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chair Paul Volcker

SPIEGEL: But even though there are still more people being fired than hired, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke is saying that the recession is technically over. Do you agree with him?

Volcker: You know, people get very technical about these things. We had a quarter of increased growth but I don’t think we are out of the woods.

SPIEGEL: You expect a backlash?

Volcker: The recovery is quite slow and I expect it to continue to be pretty slow and restrained for a variety of reasons and the possibility of a relapse can’t be entirely discounted. I’m not predicting it but I think we have to be careful.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Greenville News: New bishop-elect for Upper S.C. Episcopalians

One of the essays [The Rev. W. Andrew] Waldo wrote in response to Bishop Search Committee questions dealt with the blessing of same-gender relationships.

Waldo wrote that his congregation in Minnesota encompasses a broad diversity of opinion on the topic. Some members are same-gender couples and others are firmly against the blessings, he wrote.

Waldo wrote that “we can not act unilaterally, and I would not therefore sanction such blessings in the Diocese until we have, through the General Convention, reached a decision.”

In the interview, he said, “I have always believed that it is more important that we stand together around the altar, taking in the body and blood of Christ as brothers and sisters, than it is to win the argument.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Claim: Women bishops will force more to quit Church

A Church of England with women bishops will force more and more people to leave, a leading traditionalist has controversially forecast.

After the departure of Anglo-Catholics, the next group to have to go could be the conservative evangelicals.

The grim picture of a future church lacking the historic Anglican qualities of tolerance, inclusiveness and comprehensiveness is painted by Canon Nicholas Turner of the Bradford diocese in the Advent issue of NewsRound, the Bradford diocesan magazine.

In a hard-hitting think-piece headed Part of what we mean by Unity, Canon Turner, 58, commenting on Pope Benedict’s offer to Anglicans of a “personal ordinariate,” says the approach from “the first among bishops…must not be ignored”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

ACEN: Copenhagen unites Anglicans hoping to combat climate change

As church bells rang throughout the world Dec. 13 to mark Christianity’s commitment to combating climate change, Anglican leaders were making their voices heard about global warming in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference Dec. 7-18 in the Danish capital welcomed world and faith leaders, including Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Both spoke at a Dec. 13 ecumenical worship service in Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen’s Lutheran cathedral, about the religious imperative to cut carbon emissions and save the planet from further environmental degradation.

At the same time, church bells tolled 350 times around the world to symbolize the 350 parts per million that many scientists say mark the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“We cannot show the right kind of love for our fellow humans unless we also work at keeping the earth as a place that is a secure home for all people and for future generations,” said Williams in his sermon at the cathedral service, attended by other religious leaders, members of the Danish royal family and Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Latest News, Archbishop of Canterbury, Climate Change, Weather, Globalization

Harold Meyerson: Anglican angst

But a common complaint of American and European conservatives against Muslims is that Islam itself is a monolithic faith unsuitable for the pluralistic West. We don’t have to accept this characterization of Islam to recognize that it is close to what Anglican traditionalists are advocating for their own church.

Besides, if ever a church were rooted less in timeless truths than in historic particularities, it is Anglicanism, and the Episcopal wing of Anglicanism most of all. Anglicanism began, after all, because the pope would not sanctify Henry VIII’s divorce, and Henry used the opportunity to seize the church and all its properties. Episcopalianism began when the leaders of the American Revolution (two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were active or, like George Washington, nominal Anglicans) realized they could hardly stay religiously affiliated with a church headed by the very king against whom they were rebelling secularly.

Given the schismatic and distinctly secular nature of Anglicanism’s and Episcopalianism’s origins, the pending ordination of L.A.’s lesbian bishop seems well within the church tradition. A faith rooted in the denial of papal authority and kingly authority, a faith that in the United States has increasingly championed egalitarian principles, should hardly be cowed by contingent bigotries masquerading as universal truths.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Senate health bill unlikely to include Medicare buy-in

Senate Democratic leaders appeared poised Monday night to abandon efforts to create a government-run insurance safety net in their push for health-care reform, as they attempted to close ranks around a bill they hoped would win the backing of all 60 members of their caucus.

Democratic negotiators had already disappointed liberal lawmakers by jettisoning a full-fledged public insurance plan a week earlier. Last night, party leaders conceded that a key portion of the compromise they crafted to replace the public option — a proposal allowing people as young as 55 to buy into Medicare — also did not have sufficient support from Democratic moderates to overcome a likely Republican filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), after consulting with senior White House officials, rallied his caucus in a closed-door meeting Monday evening, reminding senators that there was broad consensus behind most of the provisions in the $848 billion package and warning them of the consequences of not passing a bill before the end of the year.

“Democrats are not going to let the American people down,” he told reporters after the meeting. “I am confident that by next week, we will be on our way to final passage.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Senate

The Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter

19th – 23rd April 2010, Singapore

Theme: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ””Covenant for the People; Light for the Nations.”

The Global South Anglican Primates Steering Committee met in Singapore on 1st to 2nd Dec 2009 to discuss and confirm planning details on the coming Encounter.
This 4th Encounter will build on the ecclesiological vision of the ”˜One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ’ we shared at the 3rd “Red Sea” Encounter at El-ein-Suknah, Egypt in 2005. The coming 4th Encounter aims to further develop this in our common life and witness in and for the Gospel. We will explore how we may relate to one another in covenantal and communion autonomy with accountability in matters of faith and order; partnerships and networks in existing and new mission fields; and mutual capacity building for increased self-reliance for greater service.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Global South Churches & Primates, Missions

Canon Gavin Ashenden: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s duty to practising Christians

But why might the Archbishop have muzzled his own personal sympathies for the liberal Episcopalian project in America? There are still questions to be asked of our cultural preoccupation with defining ourselves by our sexual attractions and appetites. Many, perhaps most Anglicans throughout the world, are not convinced the insistence of a small community of American Episcopalians to make sexual preference their defining critique of Christianity and the Church. Critics of the Americans believe they may be replacing the call to deny the self, embrace sacrifice and follow Christ for a spiritualised version of the secular penchant for self-expression, posing as human rights.

The Episcopalians have been asked to exercise some restraint in their cultural reflexes in order to achieve the greater goal of Christian unity. Neither romantic love, nor sexual companionship, are given priority in the Gospel or Christian tradition. There are abuses of human rights in the world that a united Church, not just across the Anglican Communion but extended to the Catholics and the Orthodox, might be better placed to give its energies to; and even more importantly, Christ commanded this unity of self-denying humility.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Amir Taheri: Symbolic gestures won’t deter this Iranian regime

Some of Ahmadinejad’s advisers urge him to provide Obama with a “fig leaf” to silence his domestic critics in the US. They argue that the Islamic Republic made a mistake by wrecking Jimmy Carter’s presidency in 1979 when “students” raided the US Embassy in Tehran and made hostages of its diplomats. By sinking President Carter, who had been sympathetic to the revolution, the mullahs ended up with a hostile Ronald Reagan, who became the first, and so far only, US president to take military action against Iran, in 1988. Iran should not repeat that mistake by “Carterising Obama”, some Ahmadinejad advisers insist.

Unwilling to contemplate pre-emptive war, some may believe the only alternative is pre-emptive surrender. It is not. It is still possible to raise the cost of Iran’s nuclear ambitions by fully applying the sanctions already approved, but not implemented by the UN resolution and envisaged by the IAEA’s own rules. These include tight control of exports of all dual-use material and equipment to Iran, the inspection and impounding of suspect cargos on board ships and aircraft, and the termination of Iranian access to credit facilities and banking services used for its illicit nuclear project.

The full implementation of existing resolutions would send a signal to Tehran that its “cheat-and-retreat” strategy is not cost-free.

Obama had hoped to kick this can down the road with a mixture of negotiations and symbolic gestures. The latest revelations may make it difficult to continue that tactic. What he faces is a choice between accepting Iran as a nuclear power and taking action to stop it from crossing the threshold.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Time Magazine–Jenny Sanford: The Savviest Spurned Woman in History

For starters, this summer when her husband held the customary I-have-disappointed-my-family press conference, she did not appear alongside him. This was a doubly wise move, since the governor apparently chose to make the most emotional and difficult announcement of his life without a script. Not only did Jenny Sanford avoid looking like a fool for literally standing by her man, she didn’t have to be associated with what quickly devolved into a p.r. train wreck. (His rambling, 18-minute speech included weeping, a mention of his lifelong love of camping and a “surreal” conversation he’d recently had with his father-in-law.)

Then, not long after her husband’s confession, Jenny gave an interview to the Associated Press. She was a model of control, revealing just enough detail about the affair to communicate her blamelessness in the events that transpired without letting her situation tip into the pitiable. Wearing a perky printed blouse, she stayed relentlessly on message: she was holding up her end of the deal ”” if her husband wanted back into the family, he would have to reciprocate. “It’s one thing to forgive adultery,” she said. “It’s another thing to condone it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, State Government

Pope Benedict XVI's Letter to the Conference on the God Question

In a cultural and spiritual situation such as the one we are living in, where the tendency grows to relegate God to the private sphere, to consider him irrelevant and superfluous, or to reject him explicitly, it is my heartfelt hope that this event might at least contribute to disperse that semi-darkness that makes openness to God precarious and fearful for the men of our time, though he never ceases to knock on our door.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Equality Bill threatens integrity of the priesthood, Catholic bishops tell Equality Minister Harman

Richard Kornicki, a former senior Home Office civil servant who serves as parliamentary coordinator for the bishops, said the Church could also be open to prosecution for sex discrimination if it turned away women or sexually active gay men who presented themselves as candidates for the priesthood. “The Government is saying that the Church cannot maintain its own beliefs in respect of its own priests,” he said.

But if the Bill became law and the bishops defied the Government and stepped in to discipline errant clergy they could not only be sued for sexual discrimination but, in the worst-case scenario, they could also face imprisonment, unlimited fines and have Church assets sequestrated.

Miss Harman’s proposals will inevitably put the Catholic Church on a collision course with the state ”“ particularly in the form of the powerful Equality and Human Rights Commission ”“ over the issue of religious freedom if they become law.

The latest warning of the threat posed by the Bill was sounded in a briefing prepared this week by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for Catholic peers ahead of the Second Reading of the Equality Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic